How the key players have rated heading into the third quarter of the Delta outbreak.
Jacinda Ardern – 6
Ran the 1pm press conferences effectively. Directed the dialogue between herself and Bloomfield smoothly to create a potent one-two combination. Probably smiled too much in the first half – perhaps indicative of a level of uncertainty in the face of awkward media questioning. Also showed an over-reliance on ultra-conservative plays sent in from the sideline modellers rather than trusting the team around her. Massively overused "be kind" to the point it inspired little more than the collective gag-reflex of the "team of 5 million".
Ashley Bloomfield – 8
Yet again Bloomfield proved he is the player we can rely on to handle pressure situations. He gets routinely vilified for every fumble across the disconnected health sector, and yet he smoothly takes his lumps under the high ball without seeming to flinch. He is, as the match comes down to the wire, Quade Cooper. Give him the tee, step back, and trust he'll kick the bloody thing.
Chris Hipkins – 4
Chris who? The man with the shiniest chair in the parliamentary team. That's because his arse spent most of the outbreak polishing the bench. Only occasionally called in when Ardern felt the day's messages might be damaging to her reputation, or when she simply had no good news with which to polish her halo.
Judith Collins – 2
Every team gets better when they play against a world-class opponent. Just ask the All Blacks. Against Fiji, a proud but less than tier-one opponent, they were ordinary at best. But when the Aussies turned up, the All Blacks turned it on. Ardern's team needed a similar level of competition to ensure they were performing at their best. Regrettably, Collins played more like the Eddie the Eagle at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
David Seymour – 5
Always a flighty player, and prone to the occasional gaffe, Seymour stayed true to type. At his best he was an 8, displaying some brilliant one-liners while deftly stepping around his critics. A worst he was a 1, scoring an epic own-goal by sharing the opposition's secret codes via his social media accounts. Seymour has elements of brilliance in his play, but we'd like to see his consistency improve over time.
Simon Bridges/Christopher Luxon – 8
Two talented players who saw a losing performance and decided to pull a hamstring. They clearly recognised that entering the match could only do their playing reputations harm. So, they wisely chose to make themselves unavailable for selection. We hope to see them back on the field in new positions soon.
Siouxsie Wiles – 4
Might have scored a little higher if she hadn't changed her name from Susanna to something nearly impossible to spell. Still, she did contribute solidly to the play-calling, which didn't go unappreciated by the donating public. Only one poorly judged trip to the beach unpicked what would have been an otherwise solid performance.
William and Hannah – 5
There isn't a player in the team of 5 million that hasn't made a piss-poor decision. Even our most revered athletes have smacked their shins on the media coffee tables hidden in bars and airport bathrooms across the country. Frankly, I doubt there is one of us without a sin, big or small, we would prefer not to have plastered across the news headlines. So, 1 for decision-making. On taking the lumps and apologising, an 8. It would have been higher without mucking around for 48 hours. On balance, 5. A bad match doesn't equate to an irredeemably bad player. Just ask Quade.
Auckland – 7
This was a tougher score to give. On one hand, we've taken the heavy hits for New Zealand as the main Covid gateway into the country. And while it sucks to be locked down because we are that gateway, most of the time we benefit from living in Aotearoa's largest city. We get more concerts, shows, sporting events, and employment opportunities. Our harbour is a global gem for boating, and we're surrounded by beaches. But, if we're honest with ourselves, we've done a pretty ordinary job on this one. Delta might be a tough opponent, but somewhere along the chain we have extended this match into an unnecessary extra-time scenario.
New Zealand (outside Auckland) – 9
We're sorry. Don't hate us. We know you deserve more freedoms than you're getting. For the most part, like the 99.9999th percentile, we're trying bloody hard to stamp this mess out.
MIQ – 1
This is not a reflection of the team that take the field for MIQ each and every day. It's a tough position to play, much like Owen Franks. Bloody hard grind, and largely invisible relative to the glamour boys and girls in the outside backs. So, it isn't the team. It's the paddocks where they are forced to play. Many of these paddocks sit in the most expensive real estate in the country – smack in the middle of the central business district in our biggest city. It is ludicrous. We've had 18 months to sort this insanity out, and we've farted around building unused bike lanes.
Shot Bro – 1
I wanted to give it less, but negatives weren't available. Australia named their mobile vaccination bus "Jabba the Bus" – which is pretty good – but Jacinda smugly declared we could do better. Um … that's the best we could come up with? Shot Bro. We really showed those Aussies eh. "Jabba Waka" was - just, by the way - better and without the cliched cringe factor.
Vaccination buses (regardless of name) – 8
It would have been a perfect 10 if we hadn't dragged our heels. Like many parts of our hopelessly slow vaccine rollout, this was also a no-brainer months ago. If we knew we needed to get vaccines to our most vulnerable communities, we should have also known we needed to go into those communities. Not wait for them to try to navigate some obscure online booking labyrinth. We needed to be at sports grounds, churches, supermarkets, marae, festivals, markets, retirement villages and anywhere else people came together.
Essential workers – 9
Thank you. If you didn't go to work each day, risking your safety and wellness for the rest of us, the team of 5 million would grind to a halt. A cracking performance from a traditionally reliable set of players.
Gladys Berejiklian – 8
Thank you as well. As much as Phil Goff drives most of Auckland nuts, you've reminded us we could do worse.
Delta level 2 – 2
I'm sorry, but if you're running the pub in Tuatapere and you're not ignoring the rulebook, I'd be gobsmacked. With MIQ facilities in Christchurch, your genuine risk does not appear to have materially changed in the last three months or longer. So, please feel welcome to raise a polite finger to madness, and on behalf of all of us, cram as many rugby teams into the pub as it takes to make a dollar. And if you are the Tuatapere cop and you've already chosen common sense over communist obedience, shot bro.
The vaccine – 10
The most valuable player on the team. A player that every eligible New Zealander, at home or abroad, should embrace with rolled-up sleeves.
Steve Bayliss is a fully vaccinated author, director and consultant, specialising in brand innovation and storytelling.