Bachelor Nick Cummins' frank admission
A SHELLSHOCKED Nick Cummins has told Channel 10's The Sunday Project he has "never been in a mental space as low" as during the filming of the reality dating show The Bachelor.
Cummins sat in with hosts Tommy Little, Hamish Macdonald, Gorgi Coghlan, Jan Fran and Lisa Wilkinson to "set the record straight" about why he walked away from choosing a contestant in the season finale last week.
The show was filmed six months ago and Cummins was hiking the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea for charity when it aired. The former Wallaby appeared unprepared for the media firestorm that ensued.
"Definitely coming back from Kokoda was a bit of a surprise, I wasn't ready for all the tabloids and that sort of carry-on," he said. "I consider myself a pretty upbeat, energetic dude and all of a sudden you get the wind cut out of your sails."
Cummins saw the finale, in which he made the shock decision to not pick either of the show's final two contestants, Sophie Teiman and Brittany Hockley, the day before he left for Kokoda. He said the trip had been booked a year in advance and was not an "escape" as described by some media outlets.
"I saw that finale and I knew there was going to be a bumpy road for the girls especially first of all, then for the ones sitting at home on the couch waiting for that fairytale ending they didn't get," he said.
"I thought there would be more understanding than there was. It's been sensationalised and really exaggerated. But I understand people are really invested in something like this, maybe there's some sort of emotion they want to get out of it."
He was hounded by photographers upon his return to Brisbane on Thursday, and when asked to explain himself said, "It was six months ago mate … I think we're all over it … I think you need to get over it."
During the finale, Cummins claimed he "hates" hurting people.
"I just know in my heart that I did the right thing," he said.
"There are two amazing women walking out of my life. It wouldn't be fair to enter into something that a few months down the track I would be breaking her heart. I came here for a chance at love and now I'm going to have to start again. She's out there!"
On Sunday, the Honey Badger appeared sombre and not in the mood for joking despite a number of one-liners from Little attempting to defuse the serious tone. Cummins described the process of filming the show as emotionally draining.
"You go in there, I've got a chance at finding the girl for me here then all of a sudden you're sending girls home," he said.
"I'm not a rude bloke, I feel I'm pretty honest and fair. Every time a girl was sent home at least one (still there) would come up and say, 'Are you okay?' I wasn't. It's terrible sending someone home when you don't actually know them that well and they could be the one. You're sending a nice girl home in tears. It's tough."
Cummins said he had been in "high-pressure situations with rugby, playing on the world stage in front of big crowds and you've got the public and the media all scrutinising every move on and off the field, but this was a whole other beast".
"I've never been in a mental space as low as I have been on that show, especially towards the end of it," he said.
Asked if he meant he was depressed, Cummins replied, "Everything. I've had injuries, I've been in a wheelchair, all that stuff doesn't compare to what you actually have to go through on something like that."
He revealed he didn't sleep the night before the finale, torn between choosing one of them to "avoid a whole lot of drama" and doing what he thought was right.
"They're both awesome, if I had more time maybe something would naturally grow," he said.
"She'd be sitting here right now and people would be asking, 'Are you in love?' I don't want to lie. You see the media, 'Oh we saw he was hugging another girl, he must be having an affair.' All this pressure on a relationship already on an unsteady foundation. I just can't live like that. It's not fair to her."
He said he worried about what would happen if he had picked one and then they broke up a few months later.
"Then imagine the tabloids," he said. "You see my mind split, it's either you're a jerk or you're an absolute jerk."
Asked whether he felt the controversy had damaged his reputation or cost him fans, Cummins said, "I feel that the wrong people see me in a bad light and I'm okay with that. It's like, those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't really matter."
It comes after Cummins cancelled the first two of his scheduled appearances on Saturday to promote his first book, The Honey Badger Guide to Life.
Explaining the cancelled appearances, Cummins told The Project, "What's most important right now is to put my life on hold, set it to one side and actually nut out what this is, put it to bed. It's gone on too far, jazzed up and exaggerated. I want people to know what it's like, how I'm feeling, and why I chose my decision."
He said he didn't regret going on the show. "No, I don't regret going on because I learnt a lot about myself and I don't believe in regret, it's always learnings," he said.
"I did question my decision, (whether) it was a moment of darkness, a moment of weakness, (if) I shouldn't have just picked one of these awesome girls and avoided all the crap. (But) no bulldust, stand for something, be true to yourself."
Cummins did have a choice in mind but asked if he would reveal which one he said, "No bloody way."
He added, "Six months ago when the show finished, in that same week I contacted both of those girls to see if they were okay. It was bloody intense emotionally, I was very drained and I know they went through the exact same thing. I called them - this is duty of care, she's a human being, I wanted to make sure they're all good."
Asked whether he was seeing any other woman, or secretly seeing Brooke, Cummins dismissed the "tabloid" headlines.
"Right now I am very gun shy," he said. "I'm happy to bring out that I'm not having a baby with Cass, I'm not engaged to Britt and I haven't forgotten to feed Brooke's parakeet. None of that is happening."
He ended the interview delivering a message directly to Sophie and Brittany, saying it was "sad a lot of the time this media stuff, these tabloids can get in the way and it's annoying to think that the natural progression of our friendship could be squashed because of this".
"I'm here if you need," he said.
Earlier on Sunday, host Lisa Wilkinson posted an Instagram photo with Cummins.
"So this week, The Bachelor, Nick Cummins, was bounced by A Current Affair after walking The Kokoda Track for charity, like some sort of dodgy electrician who'd been caught ripping off old-aged pensioners," she wrote.
"So tonight, on The Sunday Project, The Honey Badger will join us at the desk to answer your questions and, most particularly, once and for all the question so many feel he hasn't yet fully answered: why he walked away from choosing one final contestant in his (and their) search for lasting love …
"Maybe then, we can all get some sleep. (With apologies to Jack Thompson.)"