Speaking to 10 play, the happy couple admitted it had been 10 whole weeks since they had last seen each other face-to-face when filming on the season wrapped up.
“We haven’t seen each other since we shot the finale,” Irena said, “It’s been a tough few weeks not being able to tell anyone, not being able to see each other, but we’ve been on the phone non-stop,” she said with Locky jumping in to add that they spend four hours a day on the phone with each other.
Because they’ve been separated as most of the season went to air, with Irena at home in Melbourne and Locky in Perth, the pair were only able to watch one episode together ahead of the grand finale.
“I think it was harder for me because obviously I’m making on with other girls, sitting here with my girlfriend. That’s not the easiest,” he said.
“Whereas that stuff doesn’t really bother me I’m like ah, whatever,” Irena added. “It’s the last time you’re going to be kissing any girls other than me, may as well have a good crack at it,” she said, laughing.
Though Locky and Irena shared a spark on the very first night, the couple said it was during lockdown that they really found their connection evolved to another level.
Being able to speak with each other on the phone every day, it was a unique scenario no other Bachelor has ever had.
“I think that really cemented our relationship,” Locky admitted.
While they were forming that connection in the real world, Irena was also facing a difficult decision — returning to work as a nurse during the pandemic.
“I was told I could go back to work, but if I was to contract COVID I wouldn’t be able to return to the show,” she explained. “It was a difficult decision to make but I couldn’t just sit at home and not do anything. I needed to be at work and to help.”
Locky chimed in saying, “My little hero.”
“Being a nurse is such a big part of who I am and my life and it’s the most rewarding job,” Irena continued, “I couldn’t let all my colleagues fight without me. IT was difficult but I’m glad that I did it.”
When it was time to finally return to the Mansion, the pair had advanced their connection so much that Irena openly admitted to Locky she was falling in love with him weeks before the finale.
In their final single date, Locky finally opened up and told Irena he felt the same. Despite hearing those words, Irena said she still wasn’t completely confident heading into the final ceremony.
“I felt confident in how I felt about Locky, and I knew my feelings were 100 percent real and genuine,” she said, “but I also knew that there were other girls in the picture.
“All I could do was trust the process and trust that he was feeling the same way.”
Now that they no longer have to hide their relationship, it shouldn’t be a surprise what Locky and Irena can’t wait to do as a public couple.
“Go for a hike! Just be outdoors,” Locky said, excitedly. “We just want to be together in the outdoors. Camping, travelling, heading back to WA. Just all the normal stuff.”
After their celebratory hikes, the pair are planning to start their lives together as a couple, with Irena moving to WA.
“It’s very exciting,” Locky said, “lots of pressure!”