McLaughlin, who will make his first international start in two years, is one of 10 Leinster players in the Ireland line-up for the second Test at Christchurch, with memories of the province's Heineken Cup win still fresh.
The 27-year-old, who was called up to the touring squad after the late withdrawal of Ulster's Stephen Ferris, is confident that Ireland can step up to the mark.
He said: "There was definitely an element there of the lads having to step up to the speed of the game. The Super Rugby is a lot different to the RaboDirect - it is a lot faster.
"The Kiwis just ran from everywhere, especially when we kicked loosely a couple of times, they were pretty unstoppable in their counter-attack. We just need to be a lot tighter defensively and up to the pace of the game.
"We know the level we have to be at now to compete. Training this week has been really sharp. There has been no heads down or anything. We are in a really good position to go out and have a good go at them."
The Dubliner's season was stunted somewhat by an ankle injury but he returned for the final few months as Leinster pushed for the league and European Cup double.
He was outstanding in the Heineken Cup final against Ulster and his hard work at the breakdown freed Sean O'Brien for punishing forays up-field.
"I was happy with how the Heineken Cup final went," said McLaughlin. "Seanie played unbelievably and I felt that I did my job.
"It is brilliant having some familiar faces in the back row. It means that I can just go out there and play my own game."
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