It's not really the done thing for All Blacks to revel in themselves but an exception can be made for Daniel Carter, whose fairytale final season was acknowledged in Berlin when he won the comeback of the year salute at the Laureus Awards.

It often takes time to realise how special certain achievements are and six months on, Carter's achievement last year is starting to sink in. It's dawning that he went from being a broken, reticent, forlorn figure to the world's most commanding player.

At the start of last year he was this quiet shadow operating with no impact in the Crusaders midfield. He evolved into being the central figure in the systematic destruction of France, South Africa and Australia in consecutive weeks.

The definition of what constitutes a comeback is a bit loose but Carter surely meets any reasonable criteria on the basis that most people - and that includes himself - thought he was toast; that he had nothing left to give. Between 2012 and 2014 a nation lost faith. The Carter had that ripped the Lions in 2005 was gone. The Carter who had spent the better part of a decade drifting through every defence in world rugby, was gone.


And he was gone because the game had taken him. The constant physical battering had broken him once too often and a body that had once been able to withstand the most ferocious collisions was coming apart at the seams.

If Hollywood ever decides to make the Carter story into a film, the scriptwriters may worry that the facts would be a bit much to sell as fiction. Think about it - Carter missed the 2011 World Cup knockout rounds because of injury; he could only play 20 minutes on the day he won his 100th cap because of injury and three games back, after taking six months off in 2014, he broke his leg. It's a bit much to swallow but that's what happened and anyone who saw Carter make his first test start in more than a year at Murrayfield in 2014 would never have believed that 12 months later the same man would be crowned World Player of the Year.

That's a comeback - when the central character has been written off by even those whose faith was previously unshakeable, only to deliver more than they ever had.

And that's what Carter did - hauling the semifinal out of the fire with his metronomic left boot and then saving the final with the same weapon of choice.

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