EXCLUSIVE: Eliminated Survivor star Zach shares the tragic loss he kept secret from his tribemates

The reality star lost his best mate to a stroke just three days before the competition.

By Maddison Hockey
Survivor's tribal council has claimed another All-Star, after its exile island twist led to Jacqui turning on her alliance to blindside Zach.
Up for the challenge and nominating himself to head to exile beach, Zach was all but sure he'd be returning.
Relying on his alliance with David, Tarzan, Moana and Jacqui to get him back, in typical Survivor style, things did not go to plan.
Now on his way to Jury Villa, Zach chats to Now To Love about David's promise to play his idol and what kind of Bachelor Locky will be.
The All-Star also opened up about the special meaning Lee Carseldine's fundraising towel challenge has to him, and Zach held back tears as he revealed he was secretly mourning the loss of his best friend just three days before heading to Australian Survivor.
Keep on scrolling to read our full interview.
Lee's towel challenge hit home for Zach after losing his mate to a stroke. Image: Instagram / @zachkozyrski
We're sad to see you go! How do you feel about that blindside?
I was spewing. I thought things would be alright until AK started saying 'Yeah looks like it's all over.' I thought 'Wait a second, AK never rolls over. What is going on?' I started to realize half way through [I was going].
David promised to play his idol to keep you in the game, are you disappointed he didn't?
If he'd known I think he would have used it, but it's hard to know and it's not easy at that stage of the competition. Where we really messed up was not splitting the vote.
I said 'They don't have an idol so if you split the vote I could go home.' But they said that wasn't going to happen.
Is there any resentment that the idol wasn't played?
I don't hold it against him, it wasn't his fault. He couldn't read the votes, I couldn't read the votes, it was just one of those things.
I kick myself a little bit that I didn't do something about it when I did start getting suspicious.
WATCH BELOW: See the moment Zach was eliminated from Survivor in 2018. Story continues after video.
Fellow All Star, Locky, is going to be the next Bachelor, are you excited to watch him find love?
I am so pumped [laughs], it's epic. He's a funny guy, we've hung out a bit. I reckon he'll be making out with everybody.
You got involved with Lee's Towel Challenge to raise money in light of the tragic death of his mother due to a stroke, is that an important cause to you?
That was really tough, what Lee went through I couldn't even fathom. Especially due to stroke, it takes people so quickly.
For me, it's a cause close to my heart so I was stoked to get involved and help Lee raise awareness.
One of my best friends actually died from a stroke three days before I went out to the island. My first two weeks out there was me trying to unpack the fact I'd just lost my best mate, to a stroke as well.
Zach took part in the towel challenge. Image: Instagram / @zachkozyrski
We're so sorry to hear that. Did you second guess your decision to leave and come on Survivor, given the timing?
100 per cent. His funeral was my first day on the island. It was a really difficult decision to make, I couldn't go.
He was just one of those really tough guys, an absolute weapon, if he saw me getting upset he would call me out. He would've wanted me out there.
Did you turn to any of your fellow All Stars for support while filming?
No, there was only one person I spoke to about it and that was Henry. He could see I was struggling, and I think a little bit came out after that. I think Nick had an idea there was stuff going on.
Henry lost his mum the first time he played [Survivor] five weeks before he went out, because he had gone through something similar I felt I could confide in him and he was really supportive.
WATCH BELOW: Survivor stars take part in a nude photoshoot for charity. Story continues after video.

Lee and David's Towel Challenge

What is it?
The towel challenge is a campaign designed to raise money and awareness of the impact that strokes have on victims and their families.
Why a towel challenge?
The challenge all started when some of the Australian Survivor players started to poke a bit of fun at super model and fellow player David Genat's recent modelling photo. Lee and David are now taking it a step further for a good cause and using it to promote awareness and raise funds for the Stroke Foundation.
How can people get involved?
Anyone can get involved. All they need to do grab a towel, take a picture, upload it in black and white to Facebook or Instagram, hashtag #towelchallenge, call out your friends and family and also donate to the cause.
We want to celebrate all body shapes and sizes of all ages so that the message can reach far and wide. Most importantly we want people to have fun with it.
To donate to the Stroke Foundation, click here.