Strictly Come Dancing hopeful Thom Evans was the contestant all the female dancers were hoping to be paired with, his professional partner has revealed.
Iveta Lukosiote said she was speechless when she learned she was to spend the series with the former rugby pro, who once dated Kelly Brook.
She told the new edition of Hello! magazine: “All the girls wanted to have Thom as their partner. I wanted Thom so much that I didn’t expect to get him.
“When they announced it, I was unable to speak. I felt it was meant to be.”
Thom, who posed with the Lithuanian dancer for the magazine in evening wear seated at a grand piano, said they hit it off immediately.
“We get along incredibly well and she is hilarious,” he said. “We are very similar in many ways too: she is very switched on and knows what she wants but she knows when to laugh at herself.”
The couples were introduced to viewers a fortnight ago in a Strictly preview show, but the live series proper returns on Friday as it goes head-to-head with ITV’s The X Factor.
Thom pointed out that performing is nothing new to him and he has previously had a crack at a pop career, taking a year off from his sport to be in boy band Twen2y 4Se7en and touring as support to Westlife.
The ex-Scottish international rugby star said: “We performed in front of thousands of people so (performing) isn’t totally alien to me.
“When I was at Wellington College, I did a show where I did my Ricky Martin impression, complete with leather pants. I loved doing that.”
His sporting career ended as a result of a nasty neck injury, which almost cost him his life. But he said the incident put his life into perspective.
“I had a good cry when I realised I would never play rugby again. But I wake up every day and thank my lucky stars that I am still here.
“My accident is always there to reflect on and put things into perspective,” he added.
Iveta has been impressed by Thom’s talents on the dancefloor so far and said: “He is very alive, very active and I think he is going to be good at expressing his feelings.”