Mat Rogers became the 16th person voted off Australian Survivor last night. The former Australian Wallabies player was also the second person sent home with a hidden immunity idol sitting in their pocket.
Mat, who forged a core alliance early in the Champions tribe, was blindsided by master manipulator Benji at a tense tribal council with plenty of twists and turns.
Sharn played her immunity idol for Mat, after learning he was being targeted by the new alliance in the tribe. However, she was tricked in to playing it for herself by Benji, who hinted she would be going home if she didn't play if for herself because of a split vote. A confused Mat didn't have much time to think, and before he knew it was being eliminated from the competition with an idol in his pocket.
We caught up with Mat to find out about his Australian Survivor experience and ask the question we all want the answer to: why didn't he play the hidden immunity idol?
TV WEEK: Watching it back as a viewer last night, were you kicking yourself over the idol mishap?
Mat: Nah I wasn't really. I'm not going to beat myself up over it. It's easy to watch it with hindsight… you know hindsight is 20/20, so you think you would do things differently but I didn't know it was coming, and I just got confused by what happened [at tribal council].
Even Sharn playing her idol for me, that confused me, and then Benji piping up, and you're trying to compute everything in your head about 'why is this happening' and 'what's this'. Benji killed it. He thought on his feet quick enough and the move was such a big move from his point of view, that it had to work. Whereas I'm just sitting there hungry, tired, exhausted, thinking can we just get this over with? Like, read out the votes I want to get back to bed. And he's sweating on this thing working, so he's in a different mindset to me. When he piped up, I was sort of looking at him confused and then he started talking about a split vote. So then I'm thinking, well hang on if it's a split vote we've got four votes on Brian, if they've split the vote and Sharn's in it then we're still gonna have enough votes. And before I knew it there were names being read out.
Yeah, he got me. But at the end of the day, if I'd played the idol then... there were still eight people left, and Benji's still got an idol, so I might've lasted another day, another week, you know I might have won it, but I had a great time doing it and I hold no hard feelings towards anyone. They all played a great game and they got me out.
When Sharn did play the idol for you, what was running through your head? Did you think it meant you were being voted out, or did you just not even have enough time to process what was going on?
Between voting and Jonathan coming out and reading them, it's quite a bit of time and you're not allowed to talk. You sit there and just, you know, look at the fire basically. You're just tired and I was just literally thinking I want to get this over with. I just wasn't aware of anything going down, Sharn obviously knew there was something happening and I didn't get the information so you know, I wasn't aware anything was going down, so I wasn't thinking anything of it.
When she played the idol for me I was like 'oh yeah, cool' I thought she just had to play it and she might think I was being voted for, I wasn't aware until after the fact that she actually knew they were coming for me. She sort of had her foot in a couple of camps and Benji played her, and ultimately played me, it was a huge play! It got rid of me, got rid of two idols, and was probably the biggest play in Australian Survivor.
You weren't the first one to go home with an idol, we all saw Russell do the same thing (although with a little bit more showmanship). Do you think you were just a little too comfortable with your alliances?
I still don't think I'd do things any different looking back now, because if you don't know, you don't know. And all you can do in that game is build as strong a relationship as you can with people, and you've gotta trust them. I put all my trust in Sharn, Shane and Steve… and Sharn didn't give me the information. But I don't hold that against her, she's trying to win as well! So it's just the way the game is played. If I knew, I might have played my own idol. But she tried [to help] and Benji got in her head… well Benji got in a lot of people's heads.
Obviously it's not ideal to be eliminated, but were you excited to join Sam and Robbie in Jury Villa?
Oh yeah I got on really well with those guys, we had a great time together! At the end of the day to be in there [jury villa], I'd voted those two people out that were in there. They were all good sports about it! It was either they vote me out, or I vote them out. We were all trying to get each other and I think we're all adult enough to understand that it's a game, it's Survivor, and only one person can win.
What was it like to see your reflection for the first time in 37 days? Some of the other contestants have said they were a little shocked by their weight loss...
Yeah it was different! I'm not a big guy in any case so to see me shrink away to the weight that I was, I was all skin and bone, it was a bit of a shock. I think I lost about 13 kilos! It didn't take me long to put it back on though. I quite enjoyed that aspect of the game though, to be honest, just eating clean food, I felt healthy and really good actually even though I was skinny. That part I didn't struggle with that much to be honest, it was good fun!
Are you still close friends with your tribe on the outside?
Yeah absolutely, no doubt. Super close with Steve, and Mo, and Sam. I had Sam over at my house last week for a BBQ, you know to meet the kids and stuff and it was great. There are certainly no hard feelings with anyone in the game. It's been a lot of fun! No hard feelings and lots of great friendships.
Australian Survivor airs Monday and Tuesday, 7:30pm, on Network Ten.