TV

The Bachelor Australia's Nick Cummins opens up: "Men struggle with the emotional stuff"

The most interesting Bachelor yet reveals why he originally turned down the gig and what changed his mind.

Nick Cummins arrives at The Australian Women's Weekly's photoshoot on a crisp winter day, shrugs off his shirt, and surprises the team by playing some Mariah Carey to "get morale going".

Australia's newest Bachelor is a moustachioed pro-sportsman who adopted the nickname "The Honey Badger" after seeing the ferocious marsupial "rip the canastas" off a lion on Animal Planet, so his 90s pop diva music choice is unexpected.

But then Nick Cummins is a study in contradictions.

A larger-than-life character on screen who is surprisingly reserved in person, he rose to fame as a fearless Western Force winger who achieved the dream of playing for Australia, only to give it up for a more lucrative contract in Japan that would enable him to support his family when they needed him most.

His post-match interviews won him legions of fans for his brash commentary ("Mate, he was off like a bride's nightie") but he will take any opportunity to talk about the crisis in male mental health.

He runs outback retreats to help isolated men heal their hearts and minds, and is an outspoken advocate for self-care, but he thinks nothing of walking more than four kilometres with blood pouring out of a hole in his back.

Wait. You what?

Nick with his dad Mark Cummins.
Nick with his dad Mark Cummins.

The badger hoists up his shirt, revealing a fresh, port-wine crescent on the small of his back, curving dangerously close to his kidney.

Nick had been mustering wild bulls on a mate's property in the Northern Territory when he came off second best after a run-in with one of the beasts.

"I heard this jzzsh-jzzsh," he says, eyes wide. "I spun and it was about a metre away, at pace."

In a flash, the horn pierced his side. Nick hit the deck. Moments later he was being rushed to Kununurra, a tiny town over the WA border. At the dusty air field, Nick clambered out of the plane and walked four kilometres to the local hospital.

"It's all good now though," Nick says. "That's just what bulls do. It was just being a bully."

"That's just what bulls do. It was just being a bully."
"That's just what bulls do. It was just being a bully."

It's an anecdote that says a lot about the man who was raised by a single father in a house of eight children.

The Cummins clan is a close-knit one.

In 2014 Australian Rugby Union released Nick from his contract on compassionate grounds because his father Mark had been diagnosed with stage two prostate cancer and Nick wanted to help support his father and younger siblings Lizzie and Jo who have cystic fibrosis.

"Things were looking a little bit grim for a bit, and Nick said, 'Dad, I can make a fortune, why don't I head over there?'" Mark recalls. "That's one thing I love about my family. They're all tight."

That same year, Nick was dubbed "the world's most Australian man" for his love of Aussie slang.

"Mate," he'd say, "He was busier than a one-armed bricklayer in Bagdad."

The media lapped it up. Hordes of fans would front up to his rugby games wearing curly wigs. All this begs the question, why would an eligible young man, who loves the outdoors, and values his privacy, sign up for a dating show that would require three months of shooting in isolation and invasive speculation on his private life?

"First up I said no," Nick says. But after thinking about it, he warmed to the idea of meeting women who didn't come with pre-formed expectations of The Honey Badger.

"I came across the idea: they're not going to know me. They can judge me for who I am and not what I do. And that's attractive for me," says Nick. "Often when you go out to a pub or a club people want to be there for the wrong reasons. If there's a chance to meet someone and start a fresh I want to take it."