Tough to tackle: Why ren­o­vat­ing on House Rules is much harder than top-level footy for AFL star.

For­mer AFL player and House Rules con­tes­tant Jared Pe­trenko is find­ing ren­o­vat­ing a home on TV tougher than the sport he loves. Kerry Har­vey re­ports.

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

Pro­fes­sional footy player Jared Pe­trenko (pic­tured above with his girl­friend Jes­sica Dover) says the rough and tum­ble of Aussie Rules is noth­ing com­pared to the pres­sure of be­ing a con­tes­tant on House Rules.

“Footy was def­i­nitely a lot eas­ier,” the 28 year old says, ad­mit­ting putting his body on the line in front of crowds of 40,000 or 50,000 roar­ing AFL fans on a weekly ba­sis for six years didn’t faze him.

“It was what I’d done my whole life and it’s dif­fer­ent. Cam­eras aren’t right in your face and you are not get­ting asked ques­tions about things you don’t have any idea about. I just re­lied on nat­u­ral in­stinct.

“This is just a com­pletely for­eign ex­pe­ri­ence for me. Hav­ing zero ex­pe­ri­ence in ren­o­vat­ing made it 10 times harder than pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ences I have had.”

Pe­trenko, and his school teacher girl­friend Jes­sica Dover, 26, are one of seven cou­ples from through­out Aus­tralia who signed on to ren­o­vate each other’s homes while com­pet­ing for $355,000 in prize money.

Dover con­fesses she per­suaded her lime­light-shun­ning part­ner into ap­ply­ing for the show be­cause she wanted a toi­let door.

“He lived with mates be­fore the show and it was just very much a lad pad. It was pretty run-down.

“The toi­let didn’t have a door on it, there was mould on the ceil­ing of the bath­room; it was pretty filthy and not wel­com­ing at all,” she says.

“I just couldn’t com­mit to stay­ing there when it was in the state it was in.”

So ig­nor­ing the fact nei­ther of them had ever picked up a paint­brush or a ham­mer, they put their ap­pli­ca­tion in, never for one minute ex­pect­ing to be ac­cepted and then find their Ade­laide house the first one up for a makeover.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing their own lack of skills – and un­fa­mil­iar with the abil­i­ties of their fel­low con­tes­tants – there were some ner­vous mo­ments.

“The only thing we were happy about is that peo­ple weren’t tak­ing too many risks at that stage,” Dover says, adding that con­tes­tants be­come more ad­ven­tur­ous as the show goes on.

How­ever, they dis­cov­ered hand­ing over their home to a team of then per­fect strangers was noth­ing com­pared with the de­mands of the show. The lack of sleep, trav­el­ling and pub­lic crit­i­cism all took a toll.

Pe­trenko is no stranger to pub­lic recog­ni­tion from his foot­ball days but see­ing a pic­ture of him­self and his girl­friend on the back of a bus took fame to a whole new level. De­spite be­ing fan favourites in Aus­tralia on this year’s show, the pair still copped their share of trolling on so­cial me­dia.

“Peo­ple are very quick to judge and that was def­i­nitely the hard­est part, I think, for all of us,” says Dover. “Know­ing that ev­ery sin­gle thing you did, some­one was go­ing to have some­thing to say about it, no mat­ter how mi­nus­cule it was.

“No one knows what you are go­ing through, ex­cept the past con­tes­tants, but ev­ery­one’s very quick to put their two cents in.”

How­ever, nei­ther Pe­trenko nor Dover has any re­grets.

“The way it’s put us for­ward in our lives is def­i­nitely worth what we went through.

“It was tough, don’t get me wrong, but it’s put us miles ahead,” Dover says.

Mean­while, Pe­trenko says the skills he has gained have more than made up for the em­bar­rass­ment of learn­ing them on tele­vi­sion.

“There’s so many things that I learnt that look­ing back on it I think, ‘How did I not know that?’ ” he says, adding his new­found prac­ti­cal skills have even helped him into a new job.

Be­fore House Rules, he had been work­ing to com­bat tru­ancy at some of South Aus­tralia’s most re­mote ru­ral schools but gave up his job half­way through his House Rules jour­ney.

“They were very un­der­stand­ing and said, ‘Take as long as you want’ but I had a par­tic­u­lar role at my work and some­one else was tak­ing on my role as well as do­ing their own job and I just felt guilty about that,” he says.

“I’ve come out the other side now and I’m do­ing a job where I’m ac­tu­ally out on the tools a bit. If you’d said that to me a year ago, I would not have be­lieved it, that’s for sure.”

Jes­sica Dover and Jared Pe­trenko

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