Maura Higgins not bothered by Strictly curse and trusts flirt Giovanni

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Maura Higgins "isn't bothered" by doubts over her and Giovanni Pernice's relationship as he's partnered with Rose Ayling-Ellis on the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.

The Love Island favourite, 30, hasn't been paying attention to growing doubts from her friends that the Strictly "curse" will have some affect on her blossoming relationship with the Strictly pro, 31.

Sources tell OK! that while Maura has been warned "cracks" in their relationship could be highlighted by the competition, she has hushed critics by throwing her support behind her beau and 26-year-old Rose on social media.

"She's wanting to write the narrative that she's not bothered about the Strictly 'curse', he's got previous form but she does trust him and is showing people that," the source explained.

Before they took to the dance floor for the first time, the former Love Island star shared a photo of the couple and wished them good luck in a post to her 3.3 million Instagram followers.

She wrote: "The very best of luck to you beauties tonight… I know you will absolutely smash it."

The source continued: "Maura also understands that their relationship is mutually beneficial and that it's great for him to have a good looking girlfriend while Strictly airs, he likes the publicity.

"At the same time, a high-profile romance is a step up the ladder for her and she'd love to be on Strictly herself and wants to be the new Love Island host.

"She loves being in the press and this is all helping her. She knows he's a big flirt – it doesn't matter if you're 16 or a granny, a pebble on the floor, he'll flirt with anything."

As the couple prepared for the current series of Strictly, Giovanni and Maura enjoyed a number of date nights, revealing their sweet nicknames for each other as they went bowling.

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Showing fans a glimpse of their scoreboard, Giovanni's name was simply "Gio," while Maura was called "Princess."

Meanwhile, Rose – who is the BBC's dance series' first ever deaf contestant – has expressed her delight at being partnered with hunky Gio.

She wrote on Instagram: "Very very excited that @pernicegiovann1 is my new dance partner.

"Already in just one week I have learnt so much from him. I am enjoying every minute of it. I can't wait to show you our dance next week…!! Erk!!!"

Giovanni also shared a post to announce how "proud" he is of Rose following their first performance.

"The most proud teacher I have been in a long time !! You are a beautiful and talented human @rose.a.e!! Well done on our first dance !! Week 2 here we come..," he said on Instagram.

Maura wrote underneath: "Smashed it."

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