Bundee Aki has come on "in leaps and bounds" according to Ryan Crotty, with the two New Zealanders on course for a midfield showdown when Ireland host the All Blacks on Saturday.
Connacht centre Aki moved from the Chiefs in 2014 and made his Ireland debut last season after fulfilling the residency criteria.
The 28-year-old won his 11th cap against Argentina on Saturday and scored his third try in the 28-17 win.
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With Ireland's Robbie Henshaw (hamstring) and New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams (shoulder) both ruled out of the running today, Aki and Crotty, who replaced Williams against England, could well be on a collision course.
"With Bundee it’s awesome to see him doing so well over here," Crotty said.
"I remember playing against him, Crusaders vs Chiefs, and he was a great player back then and he’s just come on leaps and bounds since and it’s great to see him being given an opportunity.
"They’ve got class players right throughout their back-line. They’re playing some great rugby at the moment and whichever one of the boys pulls on 12 or 13 we have to prepare pretty diligently."
On the absence of Williams, Crotty added: "Gutted for him, you see how hard he's worked to get back from a couple of niggly injuries...he takes this things in his stride and he'll come back stronger."
Crotty and Dane Coles famously crushed Irish hopes of a then-first-ever win over New Zealand in 2013 when they combined at the death for a converted try in a game that Ireland lost 24-22.
Asked for his memories, the Crusaders man said: "I remember Dane did all the work and I didn't have to do anything and since then I've had to apologise to every Irish man I've met since.
"It was a special year, I think we went undefeated that year so it was pretty special, I'm delighted to be back , a great city to be in an immensely tough game to be in this weekend.
"If you look at Ireland since 2013 they’ve been a side that’s been on the rise and they deserve all the credit they get.
"We’ve had some previous matches that have been pretty close so they deserve all that respect. It’s going to be a good Test match.
"I think there’s a bit more intensity to the build-up of this game."
Follow Ireland v New Zealand via our liveblog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player or listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 this Saturday (kick-off 7pm).