Love Island fans got their first taste of drama this series when Maura Higgins sashayed into the villa and made a beeline for Tommy Fury – despite him being coupled up with Molly-Mae Hague.
Tempers flared as Molly-Mae took the boxer to task for insisting his head wouldn’t be turned – then immediately getting whiplash when grid girl Maura walked in.
Molly-Mae was overly nice to her love rival, offering her a jacket to keep off the chill and making sure she felt welcome.
But while they clashed over Tommy’s affections, the girls quickly buried the hatchet and made up after Fury picked Molly in the recoupling.
The speed of their reconciliation shocked some fans, who thought there must be more to it than was aired on TV.
And now a wild theory has claimed the real reason why they made up so fast is because they were already mates on the outside.
An eyewitness who was at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen Dubai restaurant in March this year claims to have seen the two girls dining together.
“They were sitting there, all dressed up and having dinner together,” she told Mirror Online.
“They looked like really good mates, not like they had just met each other. The managers and waiters couldn’t take their eyes off them, they were just saying they were beyond-level fit.”
The witness, who does not wish to be named, said she recognised Molly-Mae and Maura immediately when she turned on Love Island.
“I thought it was really bizarre they were pretending they didn’t know each other, and especially as they were love rivals, but then it all made sense to me,” she continued.
“If they knew each other and Maura was sent in to stir up trouble then it makes sense she would try and hurt Molly on TV, as it would have all been agreed.”
A look back at both girls’ Instagrams does indeed show them tagged in Dubai in March – although they were supposedly on different trips with their respective influencer groups.
Maura, who was travelling with Monster Energy Drink, tagged herself at the Cove Beach resort on March 8 – while Molly-Mae said she was there on March 6 with Inside Lifestyle.
Molly-Mae tagged herself having dinner at celebrity steakhouse hangout STK Dubai Downtown on March 5, captioning the snap: “First night in Dubai”.
And the very next morning, on March 6, Maura’s own Instagram page heralded her own arrival.
“Dubai we meet again,” she wrote next to a picture of herself and a friend wearing branded Monster bikinis and chokers.
The girls also appeared to go on a dunebuggy adventure on the exact same day.
Molly-Mae shared a snap of herself wearing a skintight black bodysuit in the passenger seat of her body on March 7, tagging it with Mxdubai Desert Adventure Tours.
And, sure enough, Maura shared a video of herself tearing around the sand in a four-wheeled buggy on the same day, captioning it: “Getting dirty in the Desert.”
According to their public photos, Maura stayed at Caesars Palace Bluewaters hotel on March 8, while Molly spent time at the luxury Five Palm Jumeirah hotel with Inside Lifestyle once again.
Maura then left Dubai on March 9 for a trip to Los Angeles, while Molly-Mae stayed on until March 11 then flew home to Manchester.
However, Love Island bosses insisted the girls have never let on that they knew each other in front of the cameras.
“Molly-Mae and Maura have never discussed knowing each other in the villa, and producers are always transparent in referencing if Islanders are already aware of each other – Sherif admitted he’d already followed Anna on Instagram and Lucie knew of Arabella from them both dating Charlie Frederick , for example,” said a show insider.
“The girls have never discussed this or any type of plan and as neither would have known when the other might have been going in the villa, they couldn’t have come up with a game plan.”
*Love Island continues tonight at 9pm on ITV2