Dan Carter never gave up on his World Cup dream as he prepares for a first World Cup final in his fourth tournament on Saturday.
The All Black fly-half missed out four years ago through injury as New Zealand won the title, while he was also forced off injured in the quarter-final loss in 2007.
He had made his first appearance in the tournament in 2003 when New Zealand lost to Australia in the semi-finals, but reflecting on his struggles with injury and form since the last World Cup said getting the chance to play in Saturday's final made all the setbacks worth it.
"The love for the jersey has driven my through. It's something I always wanted to do. 2003 gave me a taste for the first time and I never wanted it to end," he said.
"I had a good run for the first eight years of my career before finding it pretty tough with injuries and form. Just that love for the jersey and wanting to play at the highest level, represent your country and play alongside your best mates really gets you through those tough times when injured and working on your rehab.
"There were moments where I thought it might be the end but to fight through that and to be where I am now I’m pretty grateful for that and for the coaches for sticking by me. They showed a lot of faith and a big part of my motivation has been wanting to repay that trust.
"Immeditately after 2011 I was pretty devastated but I knew I still had a lot to add to New Zealnd rugby, which is why I re-signed a four-year contract. 2012 was one of my better years, hugely positive, but at the back of my mind, the reason I signed it was another chance at a Rugby World Cup.
"It was far-fetched thinking that far ahead, but it was always there at the back of my head.
"I just wanted to be a part of this side for the World Cup and to be here and to have achieved what we have with this side is great and I feel pretty lucky to be part of such a special side."
All Black boss Steve Hansen paid a glowing tribute to Carter ahead of the great fly-half's final Test for his country.
Carter will win his 112th cap for the All Blacks on Saturday but Hansen added that he had "enhanced" the concept of what being an All Blacks fly-half will mean in the future while adding that he was "just a normal, good bloke".
"I don’t think a guy who has played over 100 Tests like Dan has, I don’t think his career is defined by one game," Hansen said
"His career has already been defined as one of greatness and he’s added to the jersey in many many ways and over many many Tests. It’s an important game for him and everyone involved, but it certainly won’t define his career.
"He’s enhanced the jersey. When you start out as an All Blacks that’s one of the greatest things you can do. In his position that’s pretty remarkable when you think about Grant Fox and Andrew Merhtens, when those guys left we said we couldn’t replace them and a little fella from Southbridge has done that.
"He’s done it in a nice way, he’s a humble bloke. He’s brought a new dimension to being a fly-half with his tackling – [laughing] I don't think Foxy made one in his career – but the modern 10 has to tackle and he’s left that legacy for all fly-halves and he's done it with a lot of courage.
"His goalkicking has been great, but I admire that he’s gone through adversity over the last few years and it would have been easy having done everything in the game to walk away and say enough’s enough, but he wanted to finish playing well and he’s done that by getting over those injuries and being in good form.
"He’s just a normal good bloke, likes a beer, likes a laugh, and he’s nice company."