Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Photography DAVID CAIRD Styling SARAH FAR­RELL Words AL­LEY PASCOE

Barry Hall and Lauren Brant have put the past be­hind them and share their de­light over their sur­prise preg­nancy.

Oddly enough, Lauren Brant and Barry Hall’s re­la­tion­ship has been de­fined by air­ports. It was at an air­port drop-off zone that the AFL great re­alised he was in love with Brant, the for­mer Hi-5 mem­ber he first met on the set of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in Africa two years ago.

Af­ter re­con­nect­ing in the mid­dle of 2016 at an AFL match, Hall, 40, re­alised the re­la­tion­ship was the real thing when he started to se­ri­ously miss Brant, 27, every time he said his good­byes af­ter vis­it­ing her on the Gold Coast and re­turn­ing to Mel­bourne.

“There was one point where she dropped me off and I watched her drive off,” he re­calls now. “I was al­most go­ing to can­cel my flight and call her to say, ‘Come back. This doesn’t feel right at all.’ That was the mo­ment. I just had this feel­ing in my stom­ach that I shouldn’t be leav­ing. I al­most called in sick to work – which is very un­pro­fes­sional. I felt like a teenager again.”

It was a cou­ple of months later – from an air­port de­par­ture lounge – that Brant told Hall they were go­ing to have a baby. She had planned to tell him the news in per­son be­fore he played in a char­ity AFL match in Mel­bourne, but when her flight was de­layed, she tearily Face­timed him from the gate. “They were happy tears,” she says. “I have wanted to be a mum for so long. It’s just never been the right time. When I found out [I was ex­pect­ing] with Barry, it was like all the stars aligned.”

For­tu­nately, her ex­cite­ment proved to be mu­tual.

“When Lauren told me she was preg­nant, I started cry­ing, too,” Hall says. “I was over the moon.” And as for the AFL match? “I won,” he laughs. “I was buzzing. It was like I’d had 40 Red Bulls; I was jump­ing around ev­ery­where.”

With both Brant and Hall elated over their un­planned preg­nancy, the duo be­lieves that ev­ery­thing that has hap­pened since they ran in to each other again was meant to be.

“The sparks flew straight away, I could feel it,” Hall says of their chance re­con­nec­tion last year. “It just hap­pened so quick and felt so right. It’s a bit bizarre.”

It was cer­tainly a case of right time, right place. Both of their lives had changed dra­mat­i­cally since they left the African jun­gle in 2015 – for a start, they were both sin­gle.

In the year that passed since film­ing the re­al­ity se­ries, Hall had al­ready split from his wife of three years, So­phie Raad­schelder, and Brant ended her en­gage­ment to per­sonal trainer War­ren Ri­ley amid an un­ex­pected frenzy of head­lines re­gard­ing ru­mours link­ing her to for­mer rugby league player Beau Ryan.

When asked about the me­dia storm that en­sued at the time, Brant says she prefers not to look back. “There’s noth­ing in life that has ever hap­pened to me that I would feel hard done by or re­gret,” she says. “One of the mantras I live by is, ‘To see light, you have to see dark.’ To truly be happy, you have to have felt sad­ness.

“If I had to mark 2015, the one thing I re­mem­ber from that year was my grandpa pass­ing away, which puts ev­ery­thing in per­spec­tive. There are cer­tain things in life that are im­por­tant, and there are other things that are just life. Life hap­pens to ev­ery­one.”

Hav­ing weath­ered the oc­ca­sional on-field con­tro­versy of his own, Hall ad­mits he feels pro­tec­tive of Brant. “Ob­vi­ously, Lauren’s had a bit hap­pen in her life. I’ve had a bit hap­pen in mine. I was wor­ried about what peo­ple would think [of our re­la­tion­ship]. But I re­alised it’s not about other peo­ple, it’s about us,” he says. “I’ve got a thick skin – I’m sure Lauren has got a thick skin, too, af­ter what she’s been through – but I was more wor­ried about her than me. I don’t care what they say about me, but be­cause there’s Lauren and a lit­tle baby in­volved, I’m very pro­tec­tive.”

Hall needn’t have wor­ried – since the pair con­firmed late last year that they were dat­ing, the public re­sponse has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive. “Peo­ple were re­ally happy for us,” Hall says. “It wasn’t about the past or neg­a­tiv­ity. No one ques­tioned if it’s real. We know it’s real.”

“I was wor­ried about what peo­ple would think. But I re­alised it’s not about other peo­ple”

“Barry is the first per­son I’ve been with who I can hon­estly say loves ev­ery­thing about me,” Brant adds. “He makes me feel so strong. I have to thank him for giv­ing me that feel­ing.”

And be­fore the cyn­ics start rolling their eyes, Brant and Hall are quick to ac­knowl­edge just how sappy they sound when talk­ing about one other. “This might sound fab­ri­cated, but there’s noth­ing Lauren does that an­noys me. Peo­ple are go­ing to read this and think I’m full of sh*t,” he laughs.

Nei­ther Hall nor Brant, who will move back to the Gold Coast ahead of their baby’s ar­rival in May, are ner­vous about be­ing first-time par­ents. “I just want to see his face... We don’t know if it’s a boy yet, but I say ‘him’ be­cause I hope it is,” says Hall, who not only wants a boy, but three more ba­bies. Who’s go­ing to change all of those nap­pies? “I’ll change the nap­pies,” he says. “They can spew on me, poo on me, wee on me, what­ever they want to do. I’m ready. I’ve been ready for years.”

“Barry is go­ing to be the per­fect fa­ther,” Brant gushes. “We’re go­ing to have a child with a lot of op­por­tu­nity. I have three older broth­ers and they were pretty ex­cited that the baby was go­ing to in­herit some amaz­ing ath­letic genes from its fa­ther.”

This will be their first Valen­tine’s Day as a cou­ple, and their last as just the two of them, yet Brant says she isn’t ex­pect­ing a pre­sent. “There’s no wish list,” she says, “we al­ready have it all.”

BARRY WEARS Saba shirt and pants, saba.; Bonds socks (worn through­out), LAUREN WEARS Lee Mathews dress and slip, leemath­ews.; Sarah & Se­bas­tian jew­ellery (worn through­out), sara­hand­se­bas­

(left) BARRY WEARS Saba T-shirt and pants,; his own shoes LAUREN WEARS Mor­ri­son top and pants, mor­rison­shop. com; BOSS shoes, (03) 9474 6304

(above) BARRY WEARS Saba shirt and pants, as be­fore LAUREN WEARS Lee Mathews dress, leemath­ews.

HAIR, MAKE-UP & GROOM­ING Jacqueline Kalab

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