Friend or an enemy? New National leader Todd Muller plans to keep Judith Collins 'close to me'

They say keep your friends close but your enemies closer. It's not clear exactly which Judith Collins is, but her new boss Todd Muller has hinted she'll have a front bench position in his reshuffled caucus. 

Muller bested Simon Bridges in a caucus vote on Friday, after the latter sank National's poll ratings to about half of Labour's. 

He brought in Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye as deputy and said Paul Goldsmith would remain finance spokesperson, but hasn't revealed what he has in store for the party's other 52 MPs.

"In terms of the exact position of everybody and what role they have, I've got a few days with my team to land that and you'll hear from me shortly," he told Newshub Nation on Saturday.

Pressed for what job he might give Collins, who has been in Parliament since 2002, he said she was "extremely impressive" and a "high talent".

"I'm not going to go through the process of saying who's going to be on the front bench and who's not... I think Judith is very impressive and you'd expect to see her close to me."

Newshub Nation host Simon Shepherd said he'd "take that as a yes".

Collins didn't run for the leadership this time, after two failed previous attempts - pulling out of 2016's contest to let Sir Bill English win, and being defeated by Bridges in 2018. 

Some commentators suspect Collins might be biding her time, expecting National to lose heavily in this year's election, paving the way for a third leadership bid. 

Judith Collins.
Judith Collins. Photo credit: Getty

Collins told The AM Show this week she knew she didn't have the numbers to win this time, and wouldn't reveal who she backed in Friday's vote. 

She said she was happy just "being the MP for Papakura". 

The latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll showed National down to 30.6 percent, and TVNZ's Colmar Brunton poll had them on 29 percent. 

Prior to Muller's victory, Collins was ranked fourth in the party.