Former Raiders player Luke Bateman, on the line to talk before Sunday's debut of The Bachelors Australia, sounds like the sweetest guy around - down to earth, polite, thoughtful. Seriously, why is he still single?
More to the point, why is he looking for love on national TV as one of three bachelors all looking for love, and, yes, competing against each other to find that one special connection in a room full of women? He was sick of the dating apps, sick of not making a connection.
"I think everyone in my generation has a similar feeling and experience towards the methods of dating nowadays," he says.
"I wouldn't say it was disheartening. I dated some really nice people but I just never really clicked or had that feeling with anyone. I'd given it away to a point, because I was sick of paying for dinners," he laughs.
FINDING THE ONE
"I've never put labels or requirements around a partner," Luke says. "I want someone who I have a genuine spark with, a very good connection with and who loves me, supports me and has similar goals and wants to build a life and a home together.
"Whatever size and shape and box that came in, that's really unimportant to me. Because, I think, if you start putting requirements, you're really just chasing a rabbit down a hole."
Luke ended up on The Bachelors Australia, alongside fellow bachelors, Brazilian Wesley Senna Cortes and model Ben Waddell, after two female friends urged him to apply.
"I said to them, 'You know, if you guys do the application, I'll help you out with whatever you need'," he says.
"And we just had a bit of fun with it and I honestly really didn't expect anything to come of it and didn't give it much thought after they'd done it. And then I got a call about a month later, and it all went from there."
Now 28, Luke was Raider #328 when debuted with the club in 2015. He played 71 matches for the club before ending his contract early in 2020 after battling a knee injury for 12 months and in the midst of COVID lockdowns.
"Genuinely, I was at a very low point. Probably the lowest point of my life was around that time. I moved back home, went back to family, grounded myself again, went back to Brisbane and I was in Brissie for a little bit," he says.
"I grew up out in western Queensland but my stepfather is heavily involved in the timber industry out here and runs a business out here.
"So I came out here and just got stuck into work with him in the timber industry and I've honestly never looked back. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life. Really helped me learn the lessons through some very hard periods of life."
Luke has been described as a lumberjack on The Bachelor, but he's not out there every day with his shirt off using an axe to split logs.
"We own logging machinery and it's literally 12 hours a day cutting down trees," he says.
It's obvious he's happiest in the bush.
"I always say, my bed and my clothes are in Brisbane but I would say 70 per cent of my time is out in western, central Queensland," he says.
Country values are important to him, as is having kids.
"Just sharing the joyful moments with my children and partner is something I'm looking forward to and just seeing them grow as humans," he says.
MEETING THE GIRLS
"Walking in, first meeting the girls, I've never been more nervous in my life," he says.
"My whole body was shaking. It was ridiculous."
How did he get on with the other two bachelors?
"We formed a very close bond," he says.
"Both very good men. Both good mates of mine...You know, all three of us went there to find love and to find a partner and we never allowed our friendship to get in the way of our best interests."
Can he say if he found the one? "No, you'll have to watch to find out," he says, with a laugh.
Luke says the only sport he plays these days is social cricket with the Injune Eagles. He does miss Canberra - the social scene, dining out at Raku, having a drink at Tipsy Bull, the work he did as a mentor for Menslink. But rugby league is no longer part of his life.
"I'm still very good mates with a number of the boys at the Raiders but I actually don't follow the NRL very closely anymore. My life has moved past that," Luke says.
He says mates are supportive about him being on The Bachelors.
"Not surprising that I've copped a fair bit of stick, a fair few jabs. But they've all been really supportive and really excited for me. In the group chat, I've been nicknamed ' Romeo'. But apart from that everyone is super excited for me and just really keen to watch and see how I go."
Did he ask for any dating advice?
"I definitely, definitely would not be asking any of the footy boys for dating advice. I know how footy boys date and I don't think there's any advice to be taken from that.
'ONE OF THE MOST FULFILLING EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE'
Luke says he has no regrets about appearing on The Bachelors. Quite the opposite.
"The experience was incredible," he says. "I wholeheartedly mean this when I say I would put it above playing in the NRL. It was exciting, from go to woah.
"Every day brought something new and very unexpected. You didn't know what was going on and it really forced you to be a genuine version of yourself every day and articulate and communicate that with each girl.
"It all culminated into one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable experiences of my life."
- The Bachelors Australia starts on Sunday December 3 at 7.30pm on Channel Ten and 10Play.