Judith Collins says she's never called an election wrong - even picking 2017's surprise result when NZ First chose to go with the Labour/Green coalition.
"I knew exactly what was going to happen. I thought it was going to happen that way" National's new leader told The Country's Jamie Mackay.
• Why Winston Peters is not worried about Judith Collins
• The Country - Memory Lane edition
• Rachel Stewart on the Green Party and farmers
• Labour-Green coalition isn't bad news for farmers - James Shaw
"I'm out listening, door-knocking, all those sorts of things - you get to feel exactly what people are - that doesn't mean to say you give up."
As a "people person", the Opposition leader had her ear to the ground again this year, and reckoned she had an idea of how the public was feeling.
"I can tell you this. We are going through extraordinary times and we need an extraordinary team that we've got in National, to get through it."
It had been a busy week for the National Party, after the shock resignation of Todd Muller and the departure of Amy Adams and Nikki Kaye, but Collins said it was the current Government that was in disarray.
"What we are very committed to doing is maximising our party votes and actually giving New Zealanders a real alternative to the current mish-mash that we've got at the moment from the Labour-led government".
National would also provide decisive economic leadership post Covid-19, said Collins, who couldn't resist having another dig at the Labour Party.
"I'm very, very confident that New Zealanders – particularly going into the economic crisis that we find ourselves moving into – are going to be looking for some pretty strong leadership and not someone who takes two months to sort out an errant Health Minister."
'My sympathies': Peters claims Muller had 'serious breakdown'
Jacinda or Judith? Australian betting agency reveals odds
Live: Crushed it - Collins sets sights on Ardern; senior Nat MP also looks shaky
Meanwhile, Collins said one of the hardest jobs she had to go through this week was deciding her shadow cabinet - because she had too many great candidates.
Mackay suggested Nikki Kaye and Amy Adams may have done Collins a favour by resigning.
"Well the fact is that they were looking after what is in their best interests, which is their personal wellbeing and their personal happiness and that is fine for me because I understand that the jobs that they have been doing since 2008 ... have taken every single moment of their waking lives," Collins said.
"They have worked so hard and they've done so well. It's not a job to do unless you're 100 per cent committed and you have everything that you want to put into it.
"They have given their all and I wish them very well in their new careers. They're great people and they will always be our friends."
Collins also had kind words for her predecessors, Simon Bridges and Todd Muller.
Bridges had put his all into the leadership and lost power "through no fault of his own". Now he was now "so excited" to be number four in the party, with justice and foreign affairs portfolios, Collins said.
She also defended her decision not to move Muller back to agriculture, saying the former leader's real passion was trade.
"To tempt Todd to take the role and be part of the senior team - trade is what I felt was right - and he is delighted with it.
"As you know he is taking a few weeks off and I've said he should take whatever space he needs. I just think he's one of the nicest people I've met in politics and worked with, but also ... [he is] well qualified, well experienced [in agriculture], but trade is really where his passion is."
No matter how many changes her party may go through, Collins insisted that rural New Zealand could count on National.
"Agriculture is now on our front bench and it's a signal to everybody in the rural and provincial community that we understand just how important agriculture is to us.
"You know I'm a farm girl, Jamie. It's in my blood. It's in my DNA and that is where I know New Zealand has our competitive advantage."
As for September's election, Mackay suggested that if the TAB followed Australia's Sportsbet and ran a book on Collins' chances at being prime minister - she would still be a long shot - a scenario she accepted with a chuckle.
"I quite like being underestimated, Jamie, I've always found that that's a huge advantage."
Also in today's interview: Collins discussed how she would tackle unemployment post-Covid.