Kiwis captain Benji Marshall has labelled Shaun Johnson's performance as one of his best representing New Zealand after their 23-8 win over the Great Britain Lions in Christchurch on Saturday.
After a poor performance in a 26-4 defeat to the Kangaroos two weeks ago, Johnson was dropped for last weekend's test against the Lions in Auckland.
- Shaun Johnson stars as New Zealand thrash Lions in Christchurch
- As it happened - Kiwis v Great Britain
A shoulder injury to Kieran Foran saw Johnson return to the starting team and the 29-year-old didn't disappoint, scoring a try, setting up teammate Joseph Manu's try to go along with a standout kicking game.
Veteran Marshall praised Johnson for handling his demotion like a true professional and then bouncing back with a dominant performance.
"I am really proud of Shaun. The best way you can judge a person is how they respond after adversity," Marshall explained.
"I thought Shaun, the way he handled getting dropped - not only that - but the way he came back and performed this week I thought it showed a lot of class.
I think it was up there with one of Shaun's best performances for New Zealand in terms of controlling the game and building pressure and leading and I'm really proud of Shaun for that."
New Zealand's series win over the Lions was their first since 1998. Marshall said it was one of the Kiwis' best wins.
"It's one I think the boys can really enjoy and to do it on home soil for us is something special.
"I'm just really proud of the boys over the last couple of weeks; not just the way they've come together but themselves as a group on the field."
Kiwis coach Michael Maguire was pleased to see how much his squad has improved since the disappointing loss to Australia last month.
"When they first arrived in camp they got together and worked really hard at what they wanted to achieve through this tour," Maguire said.
"We probably made it a bit tough for ourselves at times in the second half, but that was then a reflection of how the boys have come together throughout this tournament.
"To see them defend the way they did at the back end, that was a reflection of what we spoke about right from day one."