Australian Survivor's Benji on becoming the third player sent home WITH an immunity idol

'I was feeling a mixture of amazing and terrible at the same time'

By Tina Burke
Benji became the 17th person voted out of Australian Survivor overnight, and the THIRD person this season to be sent home with an idol still sitting pretty in his pocket. Which begs the question: What on earth is going on?
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The 26-year-old entrepreneur struggled to convince former Champions Brian and Monika to vote out Sharn. After a super confusing tribal council, that involved going to a tie with four votes each, he ended up losing out to a very happy Sharn.
We caught up with Benji to find out about his cunning game-play, his risky plan for tribal council and why he didn't play the idol.
TV WEEK: You finally succeeded in your plan to 'dethrone' Mat, but you also angered Sharn, Steve and Shane. What was it like getting back to camp?
Benji: I was feeling a mixture of amazing and terrible at the same time. It was so awkward and so exciting at the same time, I wouldn't want it any other way. But Sharn was all stroppy and Steve was all stern and it was… a mess [laughs].
Did anyone confront you over what happened or was it just awkward?
Sharn and I went for a walk on the beach and chatted it out, because we had a really good relationship up until the point where she decided to take Mat's side over mine, so I had to do what I had to do, and you know it was a night where we both sort of turned on each other. So we went for a walk on the beach and it was just a really fake conversation. Then all of a sudden we scattered and tried to get as many people on our side as possible.
Benji blindsided Mat.
Heading in to tribal council, did you think your name would come up? Did you know people were voting for you?
One hundred percent. I knew five votes were coming my way and I thought that Shonee's advantage could be the band-aid that helps and saves me... but it wasn't. I miscalculated the revote!
So why didn't you play your hidden immunity idol?
I thought, we'll tie it with the advantage and tie the revote, then we'll go to the rocks* and Benji is safe for another week, plays his idol next week and gets to top six at that point, three Contenders to three Champions. But… I did not calculate that the advantage did not help us on the revote and that just slipped my mind. That's what sent me home.
For us viewers it's kind of like 'What are you doing? Play the idol!' But obviously when you're in the game there's a lot more to it. Was it just because in the moment there is so much going on and you're thinking too far ahead?
Yeah definitely. You're always trying to think three or four steps ahead. You're going to hit a dead end, if you think too short term, but at the same time if you think too far ahead you're going to run in to something. It's gotta be a balance out there. You're on 800 calories a day, you're around people who are put out there to not get along with you, you know, so it's definitely a real test.
Three of us went home with idols in our pockets just because… you don't see everything coming, and that one small mistake can get you sent home. At the same time too sometimes it's good to hold on to that idol and take a gamble, and if you make it through the game has opened up and you can go all the way. But sometimes you also get hit and you go to jury villa!
Benji sits at his final tribal council as a competitor.
Were you excited about getting to jury villa?
Yeah I was pumped to go to jury villa! The three guys I got along with the best in the game, Robbie, Sam and Mat. We just turned that villa in to a little party house filled with food and activities that was a great time. I was excited to rock up there.
When you did get there, did you and Mat have a funny moment when you realised you both had idols?
Yeah Mat didn't realise I had one too [laughs] and yeah, like everyone is saying he was like 'dude why didn't you play it?'
When you walked out of tribal council that night, who were you hoping would win?
Sharn. She's a game player and I respect that, I don't want anyone floating to the end. I thought Sharn was playing the best game out of everyone so I would be excited for her to go to the end.
A lot of people had said similar things about you, that they'd be happy for you to have won because you played a big game. Were you happy with the game you played?
Super happy! I went out there to play as big as possible and have as much fun as possible, and I think I ticked both of those boxes. And made some lifelong friends which was a real bonus as well.
Do you think you'd go on an all-star game of Survivor if you had the chance?
Yeah if you put Robbie back out there I'm back out there too [Laughs]
Australian Survivor airs Monday and Tuesday, 7:30pm, on Network Ten.

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