Audiences are about to witness the wooing ways of Nick Cummins when he hands out roses on season six of Ten’s The Bachelor.
But when describing meeting his ex-girlfriend of five years, Norwegian painter Martine Strom Thomassen, the former Wallaby talked a big game.
Spying her across the Woolworths produce section on a Sunday afternoon, “Instead of launching like a fat kid on a cupcake, I walked with purpose and precision,” he said in his second book, Tales of the Honey Badger.
When she slipped “arse over head” on some spilled oranges, “I dived in to catch her like a footy from going into touch and put in a brilliant turn of phrase: ‘You’ve fallen for me already’.”
Corny pick-up lines aside, the nation is already crushing hard on 30-year-old Cummins. A three-minute YouTube video of his funniest post-match interviews — thick with quotable Aussie rhyming slang — has racked up 1.4 million views.
With three books, a National Geographic travel series, multiple endorsement deals — including ab-flashing ads for Tradie Underwear — the former Western Force star comes across as a bloke you’d like to have a beer with, if not get a rose from.
He showcased his knockabout persona and diving skills in a video posted to Instagram by Ten on August 8.
— The Bachelor Aus 🌹 (@TheBachelorAU) August 7, 2018
His nickname The Honey Badger (sparked from a nature doco about the tough-as-nails animal) has morphed into something of an alter ego for the wild-haired winger.
“I just like that aggression and try to get into the mindset of the honey badger,” he said in 2012. “There’s no doubt. There’s no fear.”
But certainly, there’s a soft side.
“He’s had some tough blows on and off the field,” his aunt, The Biggest Loser 2012 winner Margie Cummins, told The New Daily.
“He has seen firsthand that life can deal you with some rock-bottom moments … he just wants to be the best he can be.”
In 2014, Cummins gave up his chances of selection for the 2015 Rugby World Cup to sign a lucrative contract to play in Japan.
“He’s no mercenary,” his father Mark Cummins told The Courier Mail at the time. “He treasures playing for the Wallabies and all he is giving up is because of his family.”
The move meant Cummins could help support his single-parent dad, who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and two of his seven siblings, Elizabeth and Joe, who have cystic fibrosis.
“It’s a no-brainer when it comes to family,” Cummins told The Project in 2016. “With Japan offering three times more loot than Australia, you’d be mad not to.”
Speaking to CNN, he downplayed the sacrifice: “I think there’s been too much talk on this. Everyone thinks of their old man as a Superman, and I certainly think that, looking after eight kids on his own.”
Growing up in Logan, Queensland, Cummins was raised by his business owner dad after his mum Debbie left.
“She suffered a lot from depression,” Mark said compassionately in a 2012 video that was released when he was named the state’s Father of the Year. “She just struggled.”
Cummins, who now lives in Manly, Sydney, brushes off questions about that period.
“She needed a bit of a break as she had a tough run looking after us nuisances,” he has said.
He credits his mum’s side of the family for his sporting prowess and reckons the gift of the gab comes from his dad. “He knows how to speak to people, knows how to tell a story,” says the 1.88-metre powerhouse. “He’s got the goods.”
So, will this reality TV run lead to a happily ever Honey Badger?
“As a family we just want Nick to keep doing what he is doing,” says aunt Margie. “Living life to the fullest with zero regrets.”
Cummins is on the same page: cue his turn on The Bachelor.
— The Bachelor Aus 🌹 (@TheBachelorAU) August 11, 2018
“My biggest fear is regret,” he told Who magazine before his public introduction as a reality TV romantic.
“You’re in there for a reason. To find a girl.”
The Bachelor premieres on August 15 on Network Ten