Shaun on his Survivor SA game play: 'There was method to my madness'

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Shaun Wilson on Survivor SA.
Shaun Wilson on Survivor SA.
Photo: M-Net
  • Shaun's 11th-hour olive branch to Santoni failed to win her, making him the tenth castaway to be voted off Survivor SA: Immunity Island.
  • The 40-year-old is the second jury member who will vote for the sole survivor at the end of the season.
  • "Santi knew my game; I knew Santi's game. We both wanted each other out," says Shaun.

Shaun Wilson (40), the IT entrepreneur from Johannesburg now living in Cape Town, couldn't wriggle himself out of a tight corner by persuading the remaining castaways in Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island on M-Net (DStv 101) not to vote for him and he got his torch snuffed. 

What was your strategy before you entered? How did you think you'd try and win?

Initially, I wanted to be mischievous and a bit of a villain, but I realised within the first few days that people didn't know how to take care of themselves. Being the oldest person, not only in the tribe but of this season, it sort of turned into this dad role where I was looking after everyone. I went from wanting to play a mischievous and naughty game to being this person who ended up being a dad figure, being a carer and being nicknamed "Pappa Shaun". That changed the whole game of what I wanted to play.

Survivor SA Immunity Island.
INDIVIDUAL IMMUNITY: Shaun in the orange T-shirt during the challenge.

Do you think that you talked too much?

Look, hindsight is the worst superpower in the world. Tribal council is actually three to three and a half hours long – it's a very long process. If I'm looking after my family, I will go head-on first, and I'll take all the burns because I'm making sure my family's getting through.

At the end of the day, before merge, it was more about looking after my camp as much as possible, so you'll see at the double-tribal the whole plan in that tribal when I went in was – the first thing was to make these people that I've looked after feel so bad that they gave us back the machete.

Secondly, it was to throw Dino under the bus. So there was always a method to my madness. There was tribal Shaun, challenge Shaun, and camp Shaun - three very different individuals. But what you see highlighted most during this season is tribal Shaun.

In the first tribal council, at the end of the first episode, you spoke a lot as if you thought you were going home. Meanwhile, nobody even voted for you. Do you think you overdid it sometimes by speaking and what you said?

So the first three days, there was a huge target on my back because everyone thought I had an idol and the best way I thought of playing it – and I told Qieän – was 'Listen, I'm going balls to the wall in this tribal.'

I'm going to be throwing so much shade at everyone – I want people to think I've got an idol, so that they don't vote for me. And that's genuinely the way you act at tribal council so that people think: Why's he doing this? He must have an idol to play for someone else. In those hours at tribal, I just couldn't get enough information from people because everyone said, "We've got a plan, we've got to stick to the vote," but nobody wanted to tell me about this plan.

Survivor SA: Immunity Island
GOODBYE SHAUN: Shaun's torch is snuffed out.

It seemed as if you got backed into a corner, and there wasn't a lot you could do eventually. How did it feel to be in that position where you're part of a smaller alliance, and now you have to try and reach out to someone, hoping they will turn and not tell their alliance?

I was always playing as if I was at the bottom. Initially, I was at the bottom of Zamba, and then I was at the bottom of Zamba 2.0 because we were down 6-3. So my whole gameplay was to stick to my core alliance and to throw people under the bus. I did it with Mike, threw Mike successfully under the bus. I did it with Paul. I spread the rumour that Paul had stolen the Futurelife bars. Threw him under the bus.

I threw Dino under the bus – and that was the plan in the last episode, to throw Santoni under the bus because I've been playing with her from day one of Zamba 2.0, and we were really close. So I knew everything about her game, and I realised that the only way for the five of us to get through is to throw the person who they suspect would flip the most, throw that person as much as I can under the bus.

Even though we were in a good alliance, we weren't in alignment. It worked really well when we were on Zamba 2.0 because we were 3-6, so any crazy strategy would work. Getting to merge, the assumption is you've got the numbers, but you can't play it like you've got the numbers. So in the last episode, it was "Hi Santoni, here's the bus. Go for it." The problem was that Amy had one idea, I had another idea, and unfortunately, Amy's idea is the one that got executed.

When you spoke to Santoni, she stood with her arms crossed in front of her. When you do these one-on-ones, how certain can you be that what you're saying resonates with someone and that you have convinced them?

I think you see it by my confessional after that section. I was at 50/50 on that because the last two and a half days, I've been throwing Santoni under the bus with everyone! Everyone! I knew her game plan; I knew everything. A lot of people didn't know it all, but I had information available. I was not convinced that that would work, but unfortunately, when you work in an alliance, you have to try and succeed in reaching the outcome that the alliance wants. Santi knew my game; I knew Santi's game. We both wanted each other out.


Survivor SA: Immunity Island airs Thursdays at 19:30 on M-Net (DStv 101)


Marisha on becoming the first Survivor SA jury member: 'It was a great blindside'

Qieän Wang on Survivor SA: 'I was thrown in a lot of deep oceans but pulled my way back'

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