On paper, The Block NZ: Girls vs Boys contestant Courtney MacKay and her rugby-pro fiancé Joe Wheeler would make the perfect team for a home-renovation show. The Highlanders star has got the brawn for all the manual labour and her background in design would make the interiors a breeze.
But despite seemingly ticking all the boxes, the longtime couple insist they’d be far from a dream TV duo.
“I’ve always said I couldn’t do it with Joe,” laughs Courtney. “I’d get angry with him more easily and tell him exactly what I think. Doing it with Emma, I know I’ll still be friends with her at the end!”
But it’s not just 25-year-old Courtney who is glad about her having best mate Emma Diamond by her side on the TV3 reality series – Joe, 28, is perfectly content as a couch supporter at their home in Dunedin.
“I am super-competitive and I know I’d frustrate Courtney as I’d demand so much from her. It would be extremely stressful on our relationship.” With a cheeky grin, he adds, “I wouldn’t want to be in Emma’s shoes!”
It’s this kind of playful banter that first made the couple first click seven years ago. In what they describe as “not a very romantic story”, the pair met in a dusty old bar in Courtney’s hometown of Blenheim, where Joe struck up the courage to ask the petite blonde for her number.
He says it was their chats and jokes that convinced him Courtney was a keeper from the get-go. “That and she’s a pretty good-looking girl,” admits the Cantabrian athlete. “We have great banter and she found me quite funny, so that was a good start!”
The couple have only grown closer since then, with Joe popping the question last year after a romantic helicopter ride up to a mountain near Kaiteriteri.
The rugby star couldn’t be prouder of his girl for tackling the challenges of The Block.
“She doesn’t like going out of her comfort zone, so it’s awesome to see her do something that doesn’t come naturally. I’m so proud of her for doing it,” he reveals.
See more loved-up photos of the pair in our gallery