On Friday night, 28-year-old Aucklander Zac Franich was announced as the leading man in the highly anticipated third series of The Bachelor New Zealand.
After months of speculation, his identity proved to be one of this year’s best-kept entertainment secrets, and from first impressions well worth the wait.
Handsome, accomplished and athletic, at first glance Zac seems to tick all the boxes of the perfect man for 19 Bachelorettes (and a nation of reality television fans) to fall in love with.
In between his vigorous shooting schedule, we pinned down NZ’s hottest new love interest for his first interview.
Franich says he didn’t really watch the first two seasons of the show and couldn’t compare himself to Art Green or Jordan Mauger, instead he told Spy he was just trying to be himself.
Unlike model Green or actor Mauger, Franich really is a virgin to the Auckland social scene.
“The audition process was a pretty fun distraction from normal life, I saw it as an interesting opportunity with no pressure attached. At no point did I think I’d actually be picked for this, it’s hugely flattering. I thought this kind of thing was reserved for famous people or the social elite, of which I’m neither, so I was pretty taken aback when I got the phone call,” Franich told Spy.
Growing up on the Hibiscus Coast, Franich has represented New Zealand competing at an international level in sprint kayaking.
As well as being a qualified lifeguard, he recently completed a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation through AUT, and works in Sports Management, delivering a sports programme at Orewa Surf Life Saving Club. “Because I’ve spent the last 15 years training at a competitive level in sprint kayaking and surf lifesaving, exercise has just been a part of my life. I’m mad about the ocean — swimming, surfing, kayaking . . . I love it all. Since I’ve been shooting, it’s been tougher.
“The schedule is hectic and I enjoy food too much! I’ve been trying to run and go to the gym, but sometimes exercise is the last thing you feel like doing. Because — chocolate,” he told Spy, when questioned on staying in shape.
The new Bachelor is still filming, but gave away his first thoughts at meeting the 19 Bachelorettes.
“There were definitely some girls I felt sparks for from the first moment I saw them, others have been more of a slow burn. They’re all amazing women, but I do have more in common with some. I don’t want to give too much away,” he said.
Fans of romance seem like they are in for a genuine treat with Franich, who comes across as an honest guy who wears his heart on his sleeve.
“I’ve definitely been in love a couple of times and have experienced the amazing highs and crushing lows that come with it,” he told Spy.
And as far as the love merry-go-round on the show . . .
“It’s been a lot tougher than I anticipated. I mean, break-ups are the worst and I’m pretty much breaking up with someone each week. It’s not fun. But I don’t want to waste anyone’s time and it will be worth it in the end.”
Franich says he is open to marriage when he meets the right one and is not sure how he will handle the downside of fame, but talked openly about what he hoped for.
“New-found fame . . . I’m not sure about that. I just hope I’m a good role model for the guys and girls I coach, I want to show that it’s all right to be open about things that others might steer clear of; hard times and feelings.”
He is not afraid if he comes across a bit goofy on the show:
“I’ve got a pretty good knack of digging myself holes I’m not sure how to get out of. I’ve probably racked up a few pearlers already. Enjoy!”
And it seems like he has a family that will keep him grounded.
“At first they laughed in my face out of sheer disbelief and thought I was joking about being on the show. But since then, they’ve been nothing but supportive and can see it for the crazy life-changing opportunity it is.”
Full Name: Zachery Alan Franich