Terry Campese's first World Cup almost left him permanently blind in one eye, but the former Canberra Raiders captain hopes his Italian redemption mission has a happier ending.
Campese was named in the Italian squad on Thursday and will link with former Canberra teammate Paul Vaughan and superstar fullback James Tedesco for the tournament.
It's a chance for Campese to make amends almost a decade after he lost his vision for 40 minutes in his Australian Kangaroos debut at the 2008 World Cup.
The eye injury ended his tournament and Campese never got the chance to play for Australia again after leaving the NRL at the end of 2014 to move to the UK Super League.
But that move opened the door for Campese to help Italy qualify for this year's World Cup and he's set for a fitting hometown farewell when Italy plays against Fiji at Canberra Stadium on November 10.
"Playing at a World Cup is something you dream of forever and mine lasted 16 minutes," Campese said.
"We were playing against Papua New Guinea and I got a stray arm ... that was my tournament done. But it was 16 minutes more than I thought I would ever get.
"I was in Italy's World Cup squad in 2013 but had to withdraw because of my knee. I want to give it everything I've got ... I've been trying to stay in shape to have a real crack."
Campese has transitioned into life after professional rugby league and juggled the Queanbeyan Blues' premiership-winning season with a new 9-5 job.
He will put his job on hold and sacrifice income to join Italy's World Cup campaign, but he said it was an opportunity too good to pass up.
Campese qualifies to play for Italy after his grandfather moved to Australia to start a new life.
His journey to play for Italy almost started 14 years ago when All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan approached Campese and asked him to play for the Azzuri at the rugby union World Cup.
Campese had just signed a deal to play for the Raiders and turned down Kirwan's invitation.
"I played for Italy as a junior in a sevens tournament, but it didn't count as a Test," Campese said.
"John Kirwan was coaching the Italy rugby union team and asked me to play at the World Cup after he talked to my uncle [David Campese].
"Looking back it would have been pretty cool to switch sports for a chance to play, but I was focusing on the Raiders."
World Cup selection has sparked debate this week after Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita turned their backs on New Zealand and Australia to instead join Tonga's squad.
Raiders back-rower Josh Papalii is set to consider linking with Samoa after being overlooked by Australian coach Mal Meninga.
Meninga also left Roosters-bound fullback Tedesco out of his squad, despite the NSW No.1 being voted player of the year by his NRL peers.
Campese says Australia's loss will be Italy's gain as the minnows look to go on a giant-killing run and cause upsets at the World Cup.
They will play against Fiji and the United States in the pool stages with only one team to advance to the next part of the tournament.
"We've got players like Nathan Brown from Parramatta as well and everyone knows how good Tedesco is," Campese said.
"I would have put him in the Australian World Cup team if I was selecting. But I'm very happy to have him in the Azzuri side.
"He'll give confidence to everyone else in the side and you can't coach that."
As for Campese's Italian language barrier?
"I know a couple of words. I played for Italy when I was younger and the qualifiers last year," Campese said.
"All the new guys have to learn the national anthem ... there were seven of us so we all had to sing it.
"It's a proud moment to represent family heritage, if my grandfather hadn't moved over here to start a new life I wouldn't be around. So I'm looking forward to this opportunity."