Simon Bridges has refused to put a number on the performance of his leader Judith Collins this week, saying it will probably "come back to haunt" him.
Collins has made headlines in recent days thanks to confrontational appearances in both Parliament and the media. The word "fiery" was used a number of times - particularly after an interview with TVNZ's Breakfast on Wednesday which the NZ Herald said "dissolved into a barely audible shouting session", and a follow-up appearance in Parliament described as "brittle and defensive" by RNZ political editor Jane Patterson.
In the Breakfast interview she falsely accused reporters of failing to ask Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tough questions about the vaccine rollout, accusing the show of being "the media wing of the Labour Party". She also defended herself against accusations she hadn't been in communication with the Pasifika community - one of her own portfolios - by saying she spoke to her Chinese-Samoan husband every day.
"I think Judith's doing a good job," Bridges told The AM Show on Friday. What we've got to do is what she's doing, which is - it's not always convenient, it's not always easy - but that's holding the Government to account."
Host Ryan Bridge asked Bridges to rate Collins' performance in Parliament - in front of an almost empty House, thanks to level 4 restrictions - out of 10.
"I'm not going to put a number on it. It's a hard job. I think she's doing the best in the circumstances. I think actually she's doing important work. I don't do numbers. They come back to haunt."
He occasionally does. In September last year, after National's support slipped from the high-40s to the 20s, Bridges gleefully pointed out how popular they were when he was in charge.
"Forty-six percent, but let's not go there," prompting a huge smile from Labour's David Parker, appearing with him on the show. "I had to - I'm only human."
Parker, appearing with him again on Friday, said Collins was "unnecessarily confrontational and defensive at the same time, and I didn't think it looked very good". He too didn't put a number on it.