The second episode of this epic week of Australian Survivor saw the elimination of Benji Wilson. The 26-year-old entrepreneur had a game of ups and downs but no matter his predicament he was always ready to make a big move. Throughout the merge he had been biding his time to take a shot at the game’s Godfather, Mat Rogers, and that opportunity finally presented itself at the Final 8, as Benji managed to wrangle the numbers and convince Sharn not to save Mat with her idol. However, with Mat gone, Benji became the biggest target left in the game and received a taste of his own medicine at the very next Tribal Council, leaving the game with an idol in his pocket.
Inside Survivor’s Martin Holmes caught up with Benji to talk about his time on the island, if he could have done anything to save himself, whether eliminating Mat was the right move, and how he feels about making it one day further than his sister Anneliese.
1) Hi Benji, thanks for chatting with us today! You obviously had no idea you were going home, but in hindsight, was there anything you could have done to save yourself? For example, did you discuss how Shonee should play her vote steal?
Thank you! When you boil down that tribal council, the big mistake for me was not calculating what happens with the advantage on a re-vote. If I had, we would have saved the advantage and played my idol instead and got rid of Sharn, and then another Champion next. That would have made it three Champs, three Contenders. But unfortunately 800 calories a day and 40 days on an island got the best of me (along with those Champs of course).
2) The Mat blindside was a huge move, but it then made you a bigger threat. Why did you feel that was the right time to take out Mat? Did any part of you consider keeping him around as a meat-shield?
Excellent question. If my #1 priority was to win then it 100% would have been smarter to get rid of Brian and keep Mat’s trust. I had to make the conscious decision out there: did I want to coast on Mat’s coattails to Final 4 or did I want to continue to make huge moves and take down big targets?
3) The Mat vote clearly severed your relationship with Sharn, but I want to know how loyal were you to Sharn before that? Were you always just using her to get ahead or did you see the potential for a solid endgame alliance?
Sharn and I had an incredible alliance up until that point. We would be 100% transparent and open about all of our plans and make sure the other person’s name stayed off the chopping block. I would have loved for this to continue further but when she played the idol for Mat, I saw where her true loyalties were and had to make the move against her. She did an incredible job to rally from the bottom and I have nothing but love and respect for her – even though we would have been incredibly dangerous together. And to answer your question, no I wouldn’t have taken her to Final 2… not a smart thing to do with so many Champs on the jury, and when I know she’d vote for me if she was on the jury.
4) Why do you think Brian and Monika chose to flip on you? Did you have a good relationship with them? (Also, how much did you cringe when you told Brian that Sharn threw his name out?!)
I didn’t have a close relationship with either of them… but I thought I didn’t have to at that point. I thought the advantage would remove Sharn from the equation then I would still have my idol to remove Brian after that. The Brian talk at the well didn’t happen like that – I said to Brian that if he got rid of me, Sharn was coming after him next.
5) Let’s rewind to the beginning of the season; we didn’t see a lot of you in those first few episodes. What was your gameplan in those early stages and how did you find your footing in the Contenders tribe?
First impressions are everything! I wanted to be underestimated from Day 1. Unfortunately, Tegan’s exile twist nuked that idea and I had to step up to the plate and start playing the game!
6) A pivotal moment of the season came when the Contenders tribe had the chance to save or send Tegan. Having heard how tight the Champions were, why did you feel it was the best move for you to take out Tegan? And do you think things would have played out differently post-merge had you guys saved Tegan?
I predicted that if I had saved Tegan that Robbie or myself would be eliminated pre-merge instead of Heath… and if we were lucky enough to survive that, then we are top of the firing line come merge. Tegan was too damn smart for me.
7) Okay, let’s say your plan worked and Sharn went home. What was your strategy moving forward for the next few votes? And who did you want to sit next to at Final Tribal Council?
Vote advantage used next and get rid of Brian. Then I would try and flip Monika who I think I had the best chance of flipping… especially as I don’t think she got along crazy well with Steve or Shane. Then flip Shonee onto Fenella (which I think would have been easier than it sounds) and take Monika and Shonee to Final 3 and go to Final 2 with Shonee as it would have been an ironic part of my villainous game that the person I agreed to take to Final 2 on day 2 is the one I did… But all that never happened haha!
8) You mentioned the nacho feast being your favourite moment in your final confessional, but are there any other highlights from your time on the show, maybe moments that you wish had made it onto the show?
Robbie told me if I found an idol out there that he would wear high heels to the reunion. It’s a shame that didn’t make it on [the show], but I know Robbie is a man of his word anyway.
9) Lastly, is Anneliese jealous that you made it further than her? How is the Survivor sibling rivalry?!
Anneliese is amazing. She is an incredible Survivor player and we get along even better since sharing such a unique experience. I’m excited to see what Anneliese takes on next with her awesome abilities.