What goes around comes around. 

Nine months ago Josh van der Flier was selected for Ireland's Six Nations opener, a dramatic two-point victory in Paris.

The flanker however didn't make it to half-time, suffering a knee injury that ruled him out for the season, forced into a watching brief as his international and provincial team-mates cleaned up all available silverware.

This week however the 25-year-old has been on the other side. With Sean O'Brien and Dan Leavy a late withdrawal after the captain's run, the Leinster man ably stepped into the breach of a backrow that got the better of the formidable All Blacks.

Only James Ryan exceeded his tackling count of 16 and was central to a number of turnovers at the breakdown as he more than played his part in the 16-9 victory.

"We'll enjoy each other's company this evening," he told RTÉ Sport afterwards. "We can be very satisfied with that performance."

The tone was set before kick-off, with the crowd roaring on the men in green during the New Zealand haka.

Lined across the pitch, the players took one step forward as the war dance began, as instructed by team captain Rory Best.

"It represented us not taking a backward step," he explained. "That was what Bestie said to us. We wanted to go after them, not step away or accept being bullied by them. That was part of it. 

"It is pretty special moment when we are all together as a team watching something historic like the haka. It was quite cool."

Van der Flier paid tribute to his skipper, who made his debut against the All Blacks 13 years ago and continues to lead by example.

"He understands players very well. He'd put his arm around you but knows when you need a good talking to. Mostly he is very soft spoken and say exactly what needs to be said. 

"When you see the performance he puts in every week, and how he trains, he's someone who is a privilege to follow."