Neath RFC launched an audacious bid to lure former Ospreys star Jeff Hassler to The Gnoll.
The Welsh All Blacks wanted to offer the 26-year-old World Cup man a playing opportunity after his release from the Ospreys and subsequent struggle to find a deal in the professional game.
But Hassler is taking a step back from rugby and has now definitively told Neath he won’t be joining them.
It is a disappointment for the Welsh All Blacks, who had secured funding for the proposed deal through chairman Mike Cuddy’s business interests in the United Arab Emirates.
They made two attempts to sign the hard-running wing who parted company with the Ospreys at the end of last term.
The first saw them offer him a season-long deal when it transpired he was having difficulty finding a new playing base.
They also offered Hassler a short-term option that would have given him the chance to stay match-fit in the run-up to Canada’s World Cup qualifying encounters in November, with Kingsley Jones’s side taking part in a repechage tournament.
But the man from Okotoks in Alberta wants to spend time pursuing other interests, including sailing.
Neath have form for giving clubless professional players a temporary base, with Mefin Davies having been accommodated by them after the winding up of Celtic Warriors in 2004.
It was while with the Welsh All Blacks that Davies featured for Wales against New Zealand that year, scoring a try as Mike Ruddock’s team lost 26-25 in Cardiff.
Neath wanted Hassler as they head into a Welsh Premiership season that will see at least four clubs relegated to the Championship.
He had been training with Harlequins before making his decision to take an immediate break from the game.
The 21-cap player scored 25 tries in 74 appearances for the Ospreys, establishing himself as a crowd favourite with his ultra-direct style.
His time with Swansea ended after he activated a release clause in his contract. He later had a change of heart, but the Ospreys had committed funding elsewhere.