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Australian Survivor Champions vs. Contenders Cast Assessment Draft


Inside Survivor’s Aussie correspondents draft their teams and assess the new cast!

The full cast for the third season of Australian Survivor was only released a couple of days ago, but that hasn’t stopped Inside Survivor’s Aussie correspondents from getting together to draft these high-flying Champions and under-the-radar Contenders ahead of the premiere on Wednesday August 1st!

Taking turns in a snake draft, Austin Smith, Dylan Vidal and Alice Barelli picked their winner candidates, big characters and personal favourites to assemble their teams. Read on to hear their first impressions for all twenty-four castaways…

AUSTIN’S FIRST PICK
HEATH DAVIES
BUILDER | 33 | BRISBANE, QLD
CONTENDERS TRIBE

Heath copyWhy He’s Team Austin: At the top of the draft – and the height chart – I’m taking our 7-foot gentle giant Heath. It might seem like an odd choice to start the draft when there are so many huge personalities on this season, but I’m trusting my instincts. In such a stacked cast, I have a gut feeling that the season favours a winner who is outwardly strong and competitive enough to be able to appeal to the alpha-heavy field, but will still be just unassuming enough to fly under the radar.

Although he literally towers over the competition, Heath seems to be a perfect fit. There’s a calm and relaxed energy about him that could counter the more intense vibes from his tribemates. He’ll be a definite asset in challenges but doesn’t strike me as the most obvious physical threat on his tribe, much less the game. Plus, his head isn’t in the clouds. He’s conscious of the inherent intimidation of his height, and this kind of self-awareness alongside his willingness to make the necessary moves, all underpinned by his reserved but congenial personality make him a definite Contender – and my Winner Pick.

DYLAN’S FIRST PICK
RUSSELL HANTZ
FORMER US SURVIVOR CONTESTANT | 45 | HOUSTON, TX, USA
CHAMPIONS TRIBE

RussWhy He’s Team Dylan: Russell Hantz’s brand of Survivor is manipulative, provocative and absolutely despicable in the most amazing way possible. Whether you love him or hate him, I believe that in an age of mateship and integrity, Australian reality television is in dire need of someone like Russell to finally show the Aussie’s how Survivor should be played.

I chose Russell to be on my team because I would rather be with him than against him – cue Sandra saying, “I’m against you Russell.” If the Champions tribe are able to win the first few immunity challenges, there is no saying what kind of damage Russell can do this season when he is given enough time to sink his claws into the game. In a perfect world, I predict that Russell will use the egos that exist in the Champions to turn everyone against each other and ensure chaos at camp.

Russell is the ultimate wildcard now that everyone knows how he operates. He is greatly aided by the fact that he is on a tribe with people who might not know who he is but once a tribe swap comes, he might be in severe danger.

ALICE’S FIRST PICK
BENJI WILSON
ENTREPENEUR | 26 | MELBOURNE, VIC
CONTENDERS TRIBE

BenjibioWhy He’s Team Alice: I’m not quite over the loss of Queen Anneliese last year and if her brother Benji is like her, he’s in good stead. Also, any self-made millionaire must have some modicum of charm.

 

 

ALICE’S SECOND PICK
MAT ROGERS
DUAL CODE RUGBY LEGEND | 42 | GOLD COAST, QLD
CHAMPIONS TRIBE

MatbioWhy He’s Team Alice: One of the Champion poster boys. I think being a touch older could help Mat and he seems laid back enough not to walk the fine line between confidence and cockiness and stay on the good side of allies and foes alike.

 

DYLAN’S SECOND PICK
MONIKA RADULOVIC
MISS AUSTRALIA UNIVERSE 2005 | 27 | SYDNEY, NSW
CHAMPIONS TRIBE

Monika1Why She’s Team Dylan: She’s beauty, she’s grace, she… also has a degree in psychology.

Monika is not your average beauty queen and she is incredibly eager to show you how intelligent she is. Do I think she is going to be a mentalist on the island? No. But I chose Monika because I believe that she will be able to learn the game as she goes and given the fact that she is on a tribe with Russell Hantz, you can bet that she will learn it fairly quickly. Also, due to Russell’s affinity for attractive women, I wouldn’t be surprised if they form an alliance together.

Reminiscent of players such as Brooke Jowett, Monika is a down to earth and genuine competitor who will happily let the hungry alpha contestants vote each other out while she lays on the beach and works a tan. Monika may not be the most flashy player who orchestrates intricate blindsides, but her social game will take her far, and I have complete faith that she will elevate her game if she makes it deep into the merge.

AUSTIN’S SECOND PICK
STEVE WILLIS
FITNESS SPECIALIST | 42 | SYDNEY, NSW
CHAMPIONS TRIBE

SteveWWhy He’s Team Austin: I fully expected to dislike the big names on the cast, but Steve W. completely surprised me in his pre-game press. Despite his reputation as the resident hardass of Australia’s The Biggest Loser, he’s clearly delineating the Commando character from the Steve that’s about to play Survivor. He’s easily one of the biggest names on the cast, but it doesn’t feel like he’s on the island just to collect the paycheck – he’s there to give it his all.

There’s a down-to-earth quality about his approach to the game and an honest humility in his willingness to admit that this is a daunting challenge.  The Champions tribe seems like the perfect spot for Steve to get his feet under him early on, though as the game goes on, he’ll definitely encounter the “does he really need the money?” question. But he’s been in the Reality TV machine before, and I think that will help him adapt to the more cutthroat side of Survivor where some of his fellow Champions might get caught in the weeds of “honesty and integrity.”

AUSTIN’S THIRD PICK
TEGAN GASIOR
MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT | 32 | DERBY, WA
CONTENDERS TRIBE

Tegan1Why She’s Team Austin: In the same vein as Heath before her, Tegan seems like such a normal person on a cast of big personalities and cartoon characters – but I think that will be to her benefit. As Australian Survivor’s second indigenous contestant, she wants to be an ambassador for her community, but she’s not going to let that define her whole Survivor story.  She’s a fan of the game, and she wants that win.

She’s driven and determined to take out the win and she eagerly talks about how thrilled she is to flex her strategic chops in the mental game – a side of her that I think a lot of her tribemates won’t expect. Yet she’s also aware of her limitations as a capable but middle-of-the-road physical and survival asset but doesn’t seem to have something to prove (unlike some of her fellow Contenders). She’s a close second when it comes to my Winner Pick, and even now I still wonder if I should have backed her horse – I’ve got a good feeling that she could come out on top as the Derby winner.

DYLAN’S THIRD PICK
PAIGE KERIN
MARKETING COORDINATOR | 24 | ADELAIDE, SA
CONTENDERS TRIBE

Paige1Why She’s Team Dylan: Paige is the girl that we all knew in high school who would get an ‘A’ in her exam and then proceed to cry about her mark and beg the teacher to give her extra marks somewhere.

Judging solely by her pre-game video, there isn’t much that stands out about Paige. You might even say she is a bit of a blank Paige. I chose her to be on my team because I believe her driven personality and strong work ethic should carry enough favour with the alpha types in her tribe to keep her game alive through the early stages. Although, if she can’t pull back the reins when things don’t go her way, I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t last too long.

ALICE’S THIRD PICK
MATT DYSON
TRAFFIC POLICE OFFICER | 35 | BRISBANE, QLD
CONTENDERS TRIBE

Matt1Why He’s Team Alice: Every cop wants to be the new Tony Vlachos. Or is it that I want every cop to be the new Tony? Matt seems like he will jump into the game full force. Whether he can pull off the ‘deep undercover’ remains to be seen. Either way, I think he’ll be entertaining.

 

ALICE’S FOURTH PICK
SHONEE FAIRFAX
PRO-SKATER’S WIFE | 26 | TEWANTIN, QLD
CONTENDERS TRIBE

Shonee1Why She’s Team Alice: THIS is the pick with the biggest reaction in our draft chat. Shonee on video certainly isn’t a shining light, but I think having lived around the glitz and chaos of cameras could serve her well. Shonee shouldn’t be a target early in the game and has possible social potential if she can get in the right group of people. She also has the potential to have a total meltdown.

DYLAN’S FOURTH PICK
MOANA HOPE
AFLW PLAYER | 30 | MELBOURNE, VIC
CHAMPIONS TRIBE

Moana1Why She’s Team Dylan: With a name straight out of a fairytale, her life has played out like one too. Being one of fourteen kids in an impoverished family, ‘Mo’ knows what it takes to fight her way to the top of the mountain of success.

Moana is inoffensive, light-hearted, funny and determined to win. She may not be a strategic powerhouse entering the game, but her charming personality and physical abilities should carry her far enough where she can learn the game and ultimately make the moves she needs to win.

AUSTIN’S FOURTH PICK
STEVE KHOUW
TAKE AWAY DELIVERY RIDER | 58 | SYDNEY, NSW
CONTENDERS TRIBE
Steve1Why He’s Team Austin: Why #ChooseYourSteve when you can have both?  Easily the character standout of the preseason, Steve K. is brilliant casting.  With his white-framed glasses, moustache, unflappable spirit and cheeky sense of humour, Steve is already popping off the screen. I feel sorry for him that Kylie Minogue won’t be waiting for him on the Champions tribe, but I don’t think that will stop him from giving the game his all. He talks about planning to be sneaky and use guerrilla tactics, but I expect Steve will ultimately play a more straight-forward game.

Regardless, the audience is almost certainly going to fall in love with him, and I think his quirkiness could similarly help him become the endearing wacky uncle on a tribe notably younger than he. That said, his oddities, age and physicality could become a liability if the Contenders fall victim to a losing streak, but however long he’s on our screens, it’s almost guaranteed to put a smile on our faces as if he’d just delivered us our takeaway dinners himself.

AUSTIN’S FIFTH PICK
FENELLA MCGOWAN
INTERIOR DESIGNER | 33 | MELBOURNE, VIC
CONTENDERS TRIBE

Fen1Why She’s Team Austin: In keeping with the character picks, I’ve got to pick one of the few contestants who managed to completely capture my attention in her press. In the onslaught of serious determination and (admittedly compelling) inspirational stories, here’s Fenella. If Steve K is some bizarre hybrid of Tai Trang and Dr. Mike Zahalsky as some Internet folks have proposed, then Fenella is our Australian approximation of the Aubry Bracco or Hannah Shapiro archetypes.

She’s bubbly, cheeky and quirky, and yet there’s a cleverness in her speech, a confidence in her oddball personality and self-deprecating humour waiting in the wings. I am a little worried for her chances in the game – even if she can survive the early votes, I think she could have an uphill battle against a very alpha-heavy cast. Nevertheless, she’s willing to play hard even if keeping secrets doesn’t come naturally and she isn’t fazed by being the “villain” (which seems synonymous with the strategic game this season). I always appreciate these left-of-centre character types, and maybe it’s just because Fenella reminds me of some of my artsier friends, but I hope to see her succeed!

DYLAN’S FIFTH PICK
ZACH KOZYRSKI
PERSONAL TRAINER | 39 | PERTH, WA
CONTENDERS TRIBE

Zach1Why He’s Team Dylan: Zach intends to bring “twisted steel and sex appeal” to the shores of Survivor this season. Behind his alpha male persona and hatred of manbuns and skinny jeans, there is a surprising amount of substance to this ex-Gladiator. Not only is Zach funny and eccentric but he is a self-proclaimed fan of the game.

Being a former Gladiator means that Zach understands what makes good TV and how to play a character which is a very useful tool in being able to compartmentalize strategy from emotion. From his knowledge of the game to his charismatic personality and impressive physique, there appear to be a lot of things to like about Zach’s chances in the game. His kooky and unorthodox sense of humour can be compared to Luke from last season. Similar to Luke, I completely expect Zach to fly by the seat of his pants when it comes to strategic decisions.

Given the number of athletic competitors there is this season I can see him aligning with the Champions tribe come a tribe swap. From that point onwards, there is no reason why he can’t make the later stages of the game.

ALICE’S FIFTH PICK
SAMUEL HINTON
ASTROPHYSICIST | 26 | BRISBANE, QLD
CHAMPIONS TRIBE

Sam1Why He’s Team Alice: The smart, nerdy archetype is usually my go-to whenever I’m picking a winner for most reality TV shows. My concern here is that Sam has all the nerd and is undoubtedly intelligent but is missing the super fan upside that this cast type usually does. Being on a tribe of sports-bros could put Sam in a sticky spot, but I couldn’t let him fall any further.

ALICE’S SIXTH PICK
SHARN COOMBES
CRIMINAL BARRISTER | 41 | MELBOURNE, VIC
CHAMPIONS TRIBE

Sharn1Why She’s Team Alice: A slightly older lady with experience arguing and presenting herself to a group of strangers. Used to working hard. On paper, it sounds good, but the past has shown that lawyers can err on the side of control freak which is a worry. Still #MelbournePride. I hope we see a good season for Sharn. I also could see a Sharn-Fenella duo.

DYLAN’S SIXTH PICK
ANITA BERKETT
SALES REP | 50 | SUNSHINE COAST, QLD
CONTENDERS TRIBE

Anita1Why She’s Team Dylan: Anita is loud and proud. She is reminiscent of that eccentric aunt that always has one too many glasses of Passion Pop sparkling wine at the family barbeque and ends up flirting with your boyfriend. She says that she can sell religion to the Pope and ice to an Eskimo. However, she has yet to sell me on the idea that she has any shot of winning Survivor.

Anita’s strategy revolves around the use of a variety of body parts: “You need to keep your eyes and your ears open, you need to use your head, play with your heart, trust your gut and watch your back.”  Unfortunately, Anita forgot to mention the one where you keep your mouth shut – which is ironically the body part she needs to control the most.

Jokes aside, I chose Anita because she is an absolute joy and there is no doubt that she will be the queen of one-liners for however long she is in the game. Lucky for Anita there are other unique personalities in Fenella and Steve K. for her to bounce off, opening the doors for potential alliances if she plays her cards right.

AUSTIN’S SIXTH PICK
SHANE GOULD
OLYMPIC SWIMMING LEGEND | 61 | BICHENO, TAS
CHAMPIONS TRIBE

Shane1Why She’s Team Austin: It’s kind of incredible that Australian Survivor somehow managed to get Shane Gould in the mix – she’s the definition of a Champion, breaking world records and winning medals in her time before retiring young and turning her attention to her next adventures. She’s an unorthodox choice for Survivor, but a welcome one and her iconic name is sure to pique the interest of some casual viewers and grow the audience.

As with most of the sporting stars, I wasn’t expecting much of them heading into the season, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Shane’s charisma and determination in what we’ve seen so far. Even as the oldest player on the cast (and the older cast in general is a big plus for this season!), I think Shane is going to be a force to be reckoned with. Yes, she is an obvious first boot for the Champions tribe given her age, but I wouldn’t put it past Shane to endear herself to her tribe either by way of her reputation or a genuine social game. Either way, she’s not going to take half measures: Is she competitive? Is the Queen from England?

AUSTIN’S SEVENTH PICK
LYDIA LASSILA
OLYMPIC FREESTYLE SKIER | 36 | MELBOURNE, VIC
CHAMPIONS TRIBE

Lydia1Why She’s Team Austin: It’s two Olympians for the price of one! Hot off her final Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang earlier this year, Lydia traded the snow for the sand, and I’m excited to see her in the mix this season. Full disclosure, she was the only Champion I instantly recognised by name when the rumours started circulating, so I’ve got a soft spot for Lydia as a Survivor contestant.

Level-headed and fiercely driven, as evidenced by the literal highs and lows of her career as an aerial skier (a truly badass sport), she’s going to be a force in the challenges and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her insulated into an early alliance that makes it deep. That said, I’m not sure if she’ll be the greatest character on the season, but that doesn’t mean she won’t do well.  I know many superfans will hate me for this, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see our winner have a streak of mateship in them – but I feel like Lydia could embody the positive social aspects of the SS Mateship without the sanctimonious rhetoric.

DYLAN’S SEVENTH PICK
ROBBIE SKIBICKI
CONSTRUCTION MANAGER | 26 | ADELAIDE, SA
CONTENDERS TRIBE

Robbie1Why He’s Team Dylan: The thing that stood out the most for me about Robbie wasn’t his beautiful eyes, the size of his biceps, or his adorable smile – it was the high horse that he was happily riding in his pre-game video.

With big bulging muscles and a giant ego to match, this Chippendale dancer… I mean, construction manager… wants to prove that you can win the game with honesty and respect. Robbie is not afraid to label himself as a hero and his self-aggrandizing strategy consists of marketing himself as an asset to his tribe by being a provider around camp and winning challenges.

Essentially, he is every Survivor superfan’s WORST nightmare. Irrespective of that, his archetype (seen in players such as Locky Gilbert, Sam Webb and Lee Carseldine) has a good track record for making it far in the game and that is why he has snatched a place on my team.

ALICE’S SEVENTH PICK
DAMIEN THOMLINSON
EX SPECIAL FORCES COMMANDO | 36 | SYDNEY, NSW
CHAMPIONS TRIBE

Dam1Why He’s Team Alice: A long, long time ago before Survivor was even possibly returning I read Damien’s autobiography “Without Warning.” His story is impressive without a doubt, and I don’t think he will be a challenge liability. I did find him confident bordering on arrogant at times and in the book he discussed being impulsive which doesn’t always make for great gameplay.

ALICE’S LAST PICK
BRIAN LAKE
FORMER AFL STAR | 36 | CAROLINE SPRINGS, VIC
CHAMPIONS TRIBE 

BrianLWhy He’s Team Alice: Ah, Brian Lake. Football legend with possible criminal activities on the side. Tall. Competitive. In shape. Things could be worse.

 

 

 

DYLAN’S LAST PICK
JACKIE GLAZIER
WORLD SERIES POKER PLAYER | 44 | MELBOURNE, VIC
CHAMPIONS TRIBE

Jackie1Why She’s Team Dylan: Poker players have never had an easy ride on Survivor, with many performances seeing them quickly dispatched from the game pre-jury. They are often game-bots who fall into the trap of playing the game too hard too soon. Judging by her pre-game video, it seems like Jackie is no exception as she promises to bluff, cheat and manipulate her way to victory. However, being placed in a tribe with world-class athletes, and a professional provocateur in Russell, Jackie might just find herself hidden behind the array of threats in her tribe.

AUSTIN’S LAST PICK
JENNA AUSTIN
FIFO WORKER | 28 | PERTH, WA
CONTENDERS TRIBE

Jenna1Why She’s Team Austin: I can’t believe that Jenna is the last on the board!?  But as my (sur)namesake, maybe we were meant to be together! Jenna seems like one tough cookie – gritty, determined and intense. As the poster child in the pre-season for the Contenders tribe, she seems to embody the underdog spirit and the fierce competitiveness that promises to make this theme sizzle. I feel like she’s going to be a voice to rally the Contenders against the Champions, but I can see her being willing to adapt, betray allies and further her own game without worrying about the games of others.

But is it too much? Although I worry that Jenna could be seen as abrasive, opinionated or inflexible by her opponents, she’s certainly not going to go down easy. I think that tenacity could serve her well in the game and earn the respect of this highly competitive field. She says in her bio that she hopes to play like Jericho – and he won the draft for me last year, so let’s go Team Austin!

Draft

Which Champion will emerge victorious? Or which Contender will have the ultimate underdog story? But more importantly, who picked the winning draft team? #ChooseYourSide

Be sure to check back in at Inside Survivor throughout the season as Austin, Alice and Dylan review the strategy and story of every episode! Also look out for the return of Power Rankings in Week 2 featuring two former players to be revealed at a later date!

Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders premieres 7:30 PM AEST Wednesday 1 August and continues Thursday 2 August.


Austin is a 26-year-old hailing from Canberra, Australia. By day, he works by the light of office fluorescence. By night, he can be found swing dancing to Top ‘40s tracks (1940s, that is), playing board games, and enjoying life with his wonderful wife. His pedigree as a long-time Survivor superfan is evidenced by his Survivor-themed 11th birthday party featuring a gross food challenge comprising Brussel sprouts.



  • Red

    I’d have to say Team Dylan in my opinion he has the most that I can see winning