NZ Election 2020: Judith Collins tells Jacinda Ardern to 'go home' if she can't handle 'bloodsport'

Judith Collins says if Jacinda Ardern can't handle "bloodsport", she should "go home".

The pair faced off in the first leaders' debate on Tuesday night, with National Party leader Judith Collins hoping to land some hits on the Prime Minister.

"I really enjoyed myself last night," Collins told The AM Show on Wednesday. "I wanted it to go on, I was just getting into the swing of it."

While Collins came out swinging, Ardern's performance has been described as lacking in passion - AM Show sportsreader Mark Richardson, a former test cricketer, said Collins "played more shots" while Ardern spent most of the debate "defending and blocking... because she doesn't want to make any mistakes". 

After the debate, the Labour leader said she was trying to avoid "bloodsport".

"Politics is not a bloodsport. It is a chance for people to see what our ambitions are, where we want to take New Zealand... I know people will be often seeking that entertainment that comes from a bit more argy-bargy, but in this environment right now, this is the time for people to hear what our plans are for the future."

Collins on Wednesday morning said debating is supposed to be bloodsport.

"That's what a debate is, isn't it? It's a boxing match without the boxing. So you know. It's not physically blood, but it's a tough environment. If people don't want to be able to do deal with that, or they can't deal with it, my answer is go home."

She promised to be the same in the next debate - Newshub's on Wednesday, September 30, at 7:30pm. 

"I'm bringing my sass.. next time too. I don't think [Ardern] likes being questioned. I've certainly seen in Parliament that when I've questioned her about her record... she tends to get a bit defensive. So you know, it's her problem." 

A poll released just an hour before Tuesday night's debate had Labour on 48 percent and National on 31. Collins had only 18 percent support as preferred Prime minister, just a third of Ardern's 54. 

Collins said it was "very important" for her to be the underdog.

"That's when I really get going. It's when people say it's just too tough, you can't do it - I just want to have a fight on it...  If you give up, then it's over. And I tell you what, I don't give up."