TV

Jordan, Lily and Ali's Bachelor Winter Games snow-mance

Jordan Mauger, Lily McManus and Ally Thompson are a self-described “group of rejects”. But that didn't stop them giving the The Bachelor Winter Games a go.

By Ellen Mackenzie

Having failed to find lasting love on The Bachelor New Zealand, Jordan Mauger, Lily McManus and Ally Thompson are a self-described "group of rejects". But as they dance around and throw fake snow at our exclusive Woman's Day photo shoot, they couldn't care less.

And anyway, their outcast status is about to change as the trio are set for global stardom with the premiere of their new reality series The Bachelor Winter Games which hit screens in the US last week.

Last December, the group flew to Vermont to film the show, which sees 26 people from across the world compete in a series of sporting events while trying to find love.

"It was a natural setting," tells season two leading man Jordan, 34.

"It was literally a bunch of people going to a lodge for a ski weekend."

Season three Bachelorette Lily, 21, adds, "It was definitely a lot more enjoyable being in the house compared to my last experience. There was an equal balance of men and women – and hormones too!"

When news broke that Jordan was returning to TV, many Kiwis were shocked, considering how his failed relationship with winner Fleur Verhoeven fell apart just days after the series ended, sending him into hiding for months.

"I didn't want to do another show after my experience," admits the assistant film director.

"I went over to the US to audition because I was intrigued and thought I might as well listen to what they have to say. The moment I got back to New Zealand, I talked to my family about it because I was worried about putting them through it all again."

While many of his friends thought he was crazy to even consider it, with his family's support and many weeks of consideration, he finally accepted the offer. But when he arrived in Vermont to see Lily and Ally were also going to be part of the show, he was apprehensive.

"When I saw these guys there, I was like, 'Here we go again!'" tells Jordan.

"But I honestly had the best experience with these two. On The Bachelor, I felt like I had to play a character, but on the Winter Games, they encouraged me to be myself.

"If Kiwis watch this, then they're going to see a truer representation of who I am. They're not going to see that boring prick who was on The Bachelor. I wouldn't even want to invite that guy to a party."

Lily adds with a laugh, "I wouldn't either!"

While Bachelor fans initially predicted it would be season two's infamous runner-up Nazanin "Nasty Naz" Khanjani who would represent Aotearoa in Winter Games, Jordan insists she wouldn't have fit into the spin-off series.

"It's not just a drama show, it focuses on real connections," he explains.

"Nobody would've tolerated someone shaking the hornet's nest, and that's what Naz would have done. She's just a constant menace and this production wouldn't have put up with that."

Instead, we get Lily, who was quick to sign on due to her love of skating and snow-boarding. "My mum was like, 'Go hard – round two, baby!' She's the biggest dance mom."

However, her season three co-star Ally, 24, thought it was a joke when she was first asked to fly to the US for an audition.

She tells, "This was something I never thought I'd do because I only got to the top nine, so I was like, 'No-one is going to remember who I am!' I had to ask if it was a prank."

The British-born blonde has come a long way since her days as a Bachelorette.

"I had a bad experience on The Bachelor with weight and it was a downward spiral from there," reveals the yoga instructor.

"People made some comments about me on the show and I didn't have a good relationship with food, but now I'm on the up and up."

While she confesses she treated herself to a "few too many cookies" in the States, since returning, Ally has lost 5kg, and she's now feeling healthier and happier than ever.

Although Jordan is quick to point out, "Ally was super-sexy on the show!"

While the three stars aren't able to reveal if they found love this time around, as they crack open some beers and toast each other at our shoot, it's clear that they've found some life-long mates in each other.

"These guys will remain my friends for a very long time, if not forever," smiles Jordan.

"For a long time, I thought I was broken and this was the first time I was able to be vulnerable enough where I could feel true emotions towards someone."

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