Those New Zealanders who have followed Quade Cooper's story may have had cause for reflection late on Sunday.
Cooper arrived in the country for the World Cup 10 years ago and embraced the "Public Enemy No 1" label bestowed on him for kneeing then All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw in the head in a test win that year and celebrating directly in McCaw's face when the Wallabies won another.
Cooper, born in New Zealand, but a proud Wallaby, was 23 at that World Cup, a relatively tender age which may have explained some of the decisions he made around that time. The advice he received was clearly lacking, too. He was outwardly unapologetic and seemed almost masochistic in his determination to invite scrutiny and scorn, but instead his perceived arrogance turned a large proportion of the country against him.
He was happy to play the pantomime victim but appeared hurt at the laughter from the audience when he fell over on the biggest stage, and many of those watching would have known the writing was on the wall from the first seconds of the All Blacks v Wallabies semifinal at Eden Park when he kicked the ball out on the full in the act of the starting the test. In the end his attitude probably hurt the team.
Cooper had arrived at the World Cup as a Super Rugby champion – his Queensland Reds team beating a Crusaders side featuring, among others, McCaw and Brad Thorn. McCaw would later admit that his eyes would light up when he was given the chance to run into Cooper, and one of Thorn's first acts as Reds head coach was to sack him. For a player with Cooper's talent and history at the Reds that must have been hugely upsetting and potentially damaging.
It's tempting, when we try to make sense of sport at the highest level, to put things into neat packages. You're reading an attempt right now. But, regardless, the redemption story is difficult to beat because it tugs at a primal human emotion: hope.
That Cooper's came on the same weekend that Novak Djokovic, the world No 1 on the hunt for tennis's "calendar slam" but who fell at the final hurdle when losing the US Open in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev, gave it extra poignancy. Djokovic, the serial racquet smasher, is not universally loved, especially in New York, but his emotional breakdown when he cried into his towel near the end of the match won the crowd over and then some. Overwhelmed at the crowd's reaction afterwards, he said: "My heart is filled with joy and I'm the happiest man alive."
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Everyone is flawed to some extent but it was Djokovic's vulnerability which won the crowd over and the same applies to Cooper, who was in the Wallabies' wilderness for four years but returned apparently a changed man with his life, and the importance of rugby in it, firmly in perspective.
His comeback wouldn't have had the same golden burnish had he missed that kick to help his side beat the Springboks 28-26 in the final minute of the Rugby Championship, despite his excellence in the preceding 79 minutes. It was his eighth successful strike and it maintained his 100 per cent goalkicking record. He also played with a maturity that the Wallabies have lacked recently. Not surprisingly, perhaps, that is a quality Cooper lacked in New Zealand a decade ago.
But the same could be said of All Blacks coach Graham Henry 10 years ago had his side not edged France 8-7 in the World Cup final. Henry, who had been reappointed despite his side's quarter-final failure against France in 2007, was knighted as a result. In Cooper's case, the awarding of Australian citizenship this week after four failed attempts appears similarly linked to the goodwill surrounding his inspired performance in the green and gold.
Before Sunday night, few apart from head coach Dave Rennie and those closest to the team could have known how Cooper would cope with the physical and mental pressure of playing at first-five against the world champions.
That he did so was a testament to his development off the field as much as on it.
Afterwards, Cooper revealed he had a discussion with skipper Michael Hooper and long-range kicking expert Reece Hodge about what would be best for the team in terms of who would take a kick at the edge of his range. Like he had all week, he showed humility and focus. In the end that was the difference and that's something we can probably all appreciate.