Rugby hunk Jacques O’Neill goes into the Love Island villa to join his ex-girlfriend Gemma Owen – daughter of football star Michael – and shares his hopes for settling down with the right person soon
And the Castleford Tigers star – who was released by the club so he could “pursue another opportunity” – suggested he still has feelings for 19-year-old Gemma.
Asked why he was joining the hit ITV2 show, Jacques said: “I split up with my ex and then I was seeing someone else.”
Jacques, who has been hampered by a hamstring injury, added: “I was concentrating so much on my rugby career and then I had that injury.
“I think it needs to be the right person, at the right time. But I was saying to my mum the other day that I want a girl. And I’m now ready to settle down.”
Fans will see Jacques pitch up at the villa tonight– much to the surprise of Gemma, who has proved a big hit with other Love Islanders.
On Friday she re-coupled with fishmonger Luca Bish, 23, and she is being pursued by Italian stallion Davide Sanclimenti, 27. But Jacques made it clear he won’t let the competition stand in his way. He boasted he “wasn’t arsed” about stepping on anyone’s toes and would go for what he wanted.
The confident contestant added: “I do think I’m a catch. We all think we’re a catch, don’t we? I’m loyal, I’m respectful and I’ve got good manners. I’ll look after someone close to me to the full extent I can.”
He also revealed he’d like to be a dad, saying: “I would have a baby in two or three years. I think I’d be good with babies too, they’d be good looking wouldn’t they?”
Jacques and Gemma split last year, but it is believed both left the relationship on good terms. Professional dressage rider Gemma has spoken about her ex on the show.
She told Liam Llewellyn – who decided to leave the island this week – that Jacques and her England ace dad had been close and had bonded over their mutual love of sport.
Our source said: “There is definitely unfinished business between Gemma and Jacques. They still have feelings for each other, so it will be hard to be in the villa together and just be friends.
“They broke up because they were both focusing on their careers. Gemma was away a lot for dressage competitions while Jacques was dedicated to his rugby career. But there isn’t any bad blood between them. It just wasn’t the right time.”
Despite his good looks, Jacques denied being a “player” and admitted he falls hard if he meets the right girl.
He said: “I am loving and I’ve got loads to give. I don’t message a lot of girls on Instagram – my chat is awful on text. I’d rather meet someone out and vibe with them straight away.
“I do fall pretty quickly though. I literally know if they are going to be my girlfriend within a week.”
Jacques said he intends to bring some fun to the villa, but he warned Gemma and the other Love Island girls he will not be working too hard for anyone’s affection.
He said: “I’m very straight up. I don’t beat around the bush, but am all about good vibes. I always bring the laughs.
“But I wouldn’t go trying to impress people – they like me for who I am, or they don’t. I’m not going to go out of my way to make someone like me. But when I’m with a girl, I do like to make them feel special.”
The Castleford Tigers yesterday said they will have first option to re-sign Jacques if he resumes his rugby career.