This was a huge week of Australian Survivor with two of the season’s most prominent players suffering vicious blindsides. The first person to fall was Mat Rogers, the former rugby player who had dominated the majority of the season in both physical and mental aspects. Mat formed a solid Champions majority early in the game and was able to use those numbers to advance himself further, dodging the many obstacles that came his way. Unfortunately, a well-timed coup from Benji blindsided the Godfather of Australian Survivor, sending him to the jury with an idol in his pocket.
Inside Survivor’s Martin Holmes caught up with Mat to talk about his time on the island, why he didn’t play his idol, his thoughts on Benji, his end-game plans, and how he picked up the game of Survivor so naturally.
1) Hey Mat, thanks for chatting with us today. Let’s start at the end. Can you talk us through that crazy Tribal Council? What exactly was going on between Benji and Sharn, and why didn’t you play your idol after Sharn decided to play hers for herself?
When Benji piped up after Sharn offered to play the Idol for me, things went quickly, and while I was processing that, things moved on and I missed the opportunity to play my idol.
2) What was your ultimate end-goal plan with Benji? Did you have any suspicion about how badly he wanted to take you out?
No suspicion of how badly, and I never wanted to trust Benji, but Sharn was confident that we could, so I took her word for it. But in the end, we both got played by him.
3) I want to go back to the start of the season. How familiar were you with Survivor coming into the game? And why do you think you picked it up so naturally?
I was familiar with the game but not overly so. I like people, and I like working in a team environment, so I played at being myself. I understand there is deception and so on, but I was trying to build an alliance I could trust wholeheartedly. Still, I think Benji is playing a great game and credit to him for a great play.
4) Brian was someone you didn’t trust for a large portion of the season and yet you kept him around, most importantly perhaps, at the Tegan vote. Did any part of you feel like you could have kept Tegan and brought her into the alliance?
Not really, if we’d voted out Brian at that stage, and, as we did, won the next immunity challenge, the other tribe would have voted out one of the Champions. We then go to merge 6-6. And as we had won most things, we really wanted to go into the merge with numbers. We didn’t want to take that risk. It’s not as easy as just voting out people you don’t trust or connect with.
5) The Lydia vote marked a huge shift in the season. Can you talk us through your decision to eliminate Lydia? Was it strictly due to her challenge strength or were there other reasons?
From my perspective, that ship was well and truly untied and moving away from the dock by the time I got over to the group. I certainly didn’t instigate it. Could I have stopped it? Potentially, but at the end of the day there can only be 1 winner. Of course Lydia was a physical threat, but I wasn’t concerned by that, it was more the fact she’s made some strong connections with others, and that was more concerning than the physicality aspect.
6) You felt slighted that Sam had given Lydia a heads up. But what made that any different from say, you giving Robbie a heads up? Did you just need an excuse to eliminate Sam or was you genuinely hurt by that?
I told [Robbie] he was being voted out. By me. That’s very different. He knew and I gave him time to swing it if he could. I was close to Sam, but he went MIA for a while. Sharn, Steve and myself were all concerned about his allegiance, and after watching the show we were correct.
7) Let’s say Sharn played the idol on you and Brian went home. What would have been the plan going forward at the next few votes? Who did you want to sit next to at the Final Tribal Council?
Steve – that was the goal from Day 1 and nothing had changed.
8) You made a lot of moves throughout the game, but I want to know which moves, in particular, you were most proud of?
I’m not sure what move I can say I’m proud of. Voting out people was tough. Taking out Robbie once and for all was good. But he’s a great mate now and we have a laugh about it.
9) Another part of the game you excelled in was the challenges. Did you feel extra pressure to perform well as a pro-athlete? Also, what has the reaction been like back home from your former rugby teammates?
I didn’t feel any extra pressure; I’m competitive, so that drives me. My old teammates have loved the show. I think there’s a few keen to apply.
10) Finally, would you be willing to fill in the blanks on anything we didn’t see? Are there any parts of your strategy, personality or overall experience that you wish had made it onto the show
I can’t say there are really. I went in to try and be myself and be as upfront as I could most of the time. I loved it and don’t regret anything.