Australian Survivor’s Shaun Hampson spills on his shock elimination and ‘rivalry’ with David Genat

''It was hard to watch back!''

By Tina Burke
After a dramatic showdown with David Genat and Luke Toki at tribal council, Shaun Hampson was eliminated from Australian Survivor overnight. Becoming the first member of the Jury, Shaun's exit has left the remaining contestants feeling more vulnerable than ever as they race to be named the Sole Survivor.
The retired AFL player started his Survivor journey as one of the Contenders, quickly becoming a fan-favourite for his strong and 'honourable' game play.
A rivalry with this season's "villain" David took centre stage in Shaun's journey, though his strength in challenges and alliance with Daisy Richardson saw him make it past 30 days in the jungle.
Last night, a wild pitch to vote out Luke almost led Shaun to safety, though he was ultimately unable to convince Janine Allis and her alliance to side with him.
We caught up with Shaun to find out more about his rivalry with David, his attempt to join forces with Janine, his 'big regrets' over his game-play and, of course, his reunion with partner Megan Gale.
TV WEEK: We know you're a big fan of Australian Survivor, but do you think you were prepared for how challenging the game can be?
Shaun Hampson: I don't know if anything can truly prepare you for Survivor, but I mean I was physically as ready as I could be. I've done some really tough things with football but this probably took the cake, this was the hardest thing I've ever done. It's not just physical either, it's mental as well and that side of the game is really hard to prepare for.
"This was the hardest thing I've ever done."
Definitely, the mental side of Survivor is probably the toughest. Did you have a clear strategy going in to the game or did you want to play it by ear when you got there?
I mean, I've watched enough Survivor to know you don't want to stand out for any reason. Whether it's being too good at challenges, not good enough, being too nice, being an asshole, you don't want to stand out for any reason. It's definitely advantageous to sort of coast through in the middle, but it's a hard thing to do because a lot of other people are trying to do that also. So, yeah that was definitely my strategy but I also knew that it was about adapting to the situation or cards you've been dealt as well.
But I think not standing out in challenges was something I struggled with, because of my competitive side. The challenges were my favourite part, I loved competing again which I haven't done since I played football. So I couldn't hold back in those, I just wanted to win every time.
Your wife Megan was sort of roasting you on the Survivor Instagram page for having formed a "power couple" with Daisy, because it puts a target on your back...
Yeah, people just labelled us a power couple but there were people in the game who I was just as tight with. I think people labelled us as that to put a bit of a target on us, but I don't know how it came about! I know it's kind of a big no-no in Survivor, you don't want to stand out for any reason, and being a 'power couple' makes you stand out. But at the same time, if you find someone you get along with well and trust out there you sort of want to hang around them and talk strategy and stuff. It's tough out there, and it makes things easier if you have a couple good people around you.
It's got to be the toughest part of Survivor. Like you say, you need to stand out enough that people want to keep you around but not so much that they see you as a threat…
Exactly. And for your resume at the end you've got to be able to say you've played the game and played hard. It's all about doing things at the right time, and it's a really tough challenge.
Shaun is proud he played the game "hard" - even if it means he was eliminated!
One of your main storylines of the season was the fake idol swap with David, which cemented your rivalry. What was it like to watch that back on your screen, and see all the plotting from his side as well…
Yeah you know it was a little bit hard to watch back, but I went out there and wanted to make big moves so, that was a huge risk but the possible reward was huge. I weighed it up, whether or not I could trust him I didn't know, but if you don't make moves in the game and you get to the end, you're not going to have a good resume. In some regards it was a really good move he pulled because he got a genuine idol that saved him at the end of the day, but had he not done that [fake swap] he wouldn't have had me after him in the first place and wouldn't have had to play it. So it's the trade off of like, is this idol worth making an enemy and making a bunch of people know that I'm not trust worthy?
Last night there was a bit of a scramble before tribal council and you ended up throwing Luke's name out there as a possible target. Janine definitely seemed to consider it. How confident were you in the conversations you'd had going in to the vote?
Not too confident! I just don't think I had enough time. Janine was someone I got along with really well and I think if I could have survived one more tribal council I probably could have gotten her, Pia and Abbey across the line. But I couldn't buy myself that extra time.
Obviously when you get to this point in the game you're exhausted, you're hungry, you've been playing mind games for 30 odd days and so you don't always think as clearly as you can in these situations. Is there anything you look back on that you wish you had done or said differently?
I'm full of regrets. Like, I hate living my life with any kind of regret and I try not to dwell on the past but, when it comes to Survivor I've found myself regretting so much of what I did or didn't do out there. Obviously switching the idol was one, where I could have held on to it and it could have worked out better for me. The night when I got swapped I considered talking to the other tribe and saying instead of picking me, pick one of the Champions. And I guess not working hard enough on my relationship with Janine after merge, because I left it a few days and I ended up leaving it too late.
God, if you can play the game without any regrets then well done, but I think even at the end if you win you'd still look back and think about ways you could have made it easier for yourself. I think it's just natural with something like Survivor.
Shaun regrets how he handled the idol swap with David.
You were one of the strong players and fans have certainly been #TeamShaun throughout the series. There was a lot of frustration over your elimination because people think you're playing the game well, but it's just the way it goes on Survivor! Do you have any resentment to players like David who made sneaky moves and ended up sending you home, or are you a bit like 'oh well, you guys got me!'
No resentment at all! I'll tell you what, people keep coming up to me on the street and saying like 'you must hate him' and things like that but that could not be further from the truth. Myself and David are both big fans of the game, and we both love people who play big, strong games... when the people who get to the end actually deserve to be there. He's played a fantastic game and we've spoken heaps since we got home afterwards. We get along so well, and have respect for what each other did out there, so there are no hard feelings towards anyone.
I knew it was a game and I always said if I was lied to, backstabbed, I would take nothing personally. It's not real life and I think that's something people have got to remember, too. A lot of people on social media get fired up but it's just a game and everybody out there knows that, we're all big boys and big girls and we can take it. I have no resentment and I was really looking forward to watching the rest of the game play out in the jury, it's just a shame I couldn't be a part of it.
Shaun reveals he's great friends with David outside of Survivor.
It's exciting to be part of the jury, but were you a little bummed that you just missed out on being sent home to see your family?
Look there's a bit of both I guess. I was upset because, had it been one tribal earlier, I could have gone home and seen my family. We all give up a lot to be out there; Megan was launching her business, I missed my son's birthday, I missed a lot with my own business. But, to think I could have gotten to 30 odd days and not had a say in the end of the game would have been a pretty hard pill to swallow, so I think at the end of the day I was really happy. I've given up so much to play this game that I love, that I've loved since I was 12, so if I'd gotten to the end and not had a say in who wins I would have been really upset.
What was the first thing you did when you got to Jury Villa?
The only thing I could think about was food, and it's TV so they're setting up cameras and stuff like that and I can literally see the food on the table and it was SO hard. When I got to eat, I just sat down and made a right pig of myself.
And were you shocked by your weight loss? What was your reaction when you saw yourself and that magnificent beard for the first time?
I was shocked! I was so skinny, it was like 11 kilos I think I lost. I looked like a 19 year old version of myself, but with a beard. I mean, it all came on again pretty fast once I was in Jury Villa because you're pretty much getting an unlimited feast every second night when someone else joins. So it came on real quick!
And after all the feasting, was it really nice to be able to call your family and tell them how you'd done in the game?
Yeah, that was fantastic. I'm not too much of an emotional guy, but the first time I heard Megan's voice like it was just like bizarre, it was like listening to this angel on the other end of the line. Like, hearing the same voices for 30 days they start grinding on you, like you build these really good relationships out there but while you're playing the game you can't trust anybody and then all of a sudden you get to make a phone call home to your partner who you just trust with your life, and it just was so amazing.
It's interesting what you've said there, because no matter how 'close' you become with friends in the game, those friends can and will vote you out...
Yeah, absolutely!
So was it refreshing to be in Jury Villa as people kept joining you, to be able to forge friendships without having to watch your back or play games?
Yeah I loved it, as one by one they joined me in my villa I loved talking to everyone about their game and their journey, some of which I wasn't privy to. So it was really great to have time to chat about the game and not be worried about lies, or tell people your lies and be honest with them about what you did. It was really therapeutic for everyone I think, because the game does mess with your mind a bit. Like the first morning I was out on my balcony and I was looking around and I realised I was looking for idols, and I was like 'you've gone crazy. You don't need to do this anymore'. But it really does a number on you mentally, so I think everybody found it very therapeutic to chat in jury villa about the game.
Australian Survivor: Champions vs Contenders airs Monday, Tuesday and Sunday, 7.30pm on 10.

read more from