Being dropped from the Blacksticks on 99 test caps after almost a decade in the side could be a tough pill for some to swallow.
Being dropped from the team when your husband is the assistant coach – even tougher.
But Sue and Andy Innes just laugh it off.
“He finds it funnier than I do, but I remind him he only played four tests,” Sue says.
It’s this banter and sense of humour the couple are able to bring to every team they coach. As a coaching duo there’s no disputing they’ve got the recipe right when it comes to success on the turf.
When Sue took over the head coaching role of the Canterbury Cats for the 2016 season Andy came on as her assistant and the pair took the team to its first National Hockey League title since 2012.
Following on from the Cats the couple took over as coaches of the Canterbury Under 21s, again the results followed with the side winning back to back national titles.
It’s no surprise then that when it comes to coaching with a spouse, the Innes’ see far more positives than negatives.
“We have that trust so well established with each other and it makes it easier to have frank and honest conversations about what we think.
“There’s also the fact that we don’t have to schedule meetings, everything can be impromptu we can have discussions with each other at home when we think of something.
“There’s the risk that it can become too much of the focus at home but we don’t tend to have that problem,” Sue says.
For Andy, he believes they both work to their strengths.
While they tend to see things the same way they also bring their own areas of expertise.
Sue takes the forwards, as a striker herself that’s where she’s most at home. As a back Andy lends his skills and knowledge to defence.
Both believe the most important aspect of coaching is to build and maintain a positive culture within a team.
“From one season to the next you could lose five or six players so it can be hard to build on the continuity within a team,” Andy says.
“What we can control is the way we coach and what we consider to be the most important elements – having a positive team environment and confident players who can lead.
“We do have to tweak things a bit each year depending on the personalities of the players. But when they are out there on the turf and the pressure is on, we want them to have the confidence to trust their instinct and know that we have their back,” Andy says.
The couple have two children Ben and Emma who both played hockey.
Emma who is now at University in Otago played for the St Andrews College 1st XI. Sue became involved with the team during that time and continues to help out with the side now.
As coaches of the under 21s the pair are excited about the young talent they see coming through in the region.
“There is a strong group of homegrown players in Canterbury now which is fantastic.
“I think it’s testament to the high-performance systems that Canterbury Hockey has put in place which are really paying dividends now, Andy says.
Neither Sue or Andy have any plans to give up their coaching roles anytime soon.
“We are just really lucky that we both have this mutual passion for the game. We work really well together and we absolutely enjoy it,” Sue says.
“We believe so much in the pride that comes from playing for Canterbury and it’s great being able to help install that pride in the players coming through.”
Words: Kim Nutbrown