After three teams merged into two and the core Aganoa foursome were split with Lee and El on the powerful new Saanapu tribe and Phoebe and Rohan, along with outsiders Kat and Kristie, on the short end of the numbers on the new Vanau, the balance of the game seemed tipped in Saanapu's favour.
Vavau did not help impressions by losing a muddy spa reward challenge and then coming up short in an exhausting water-basketball immunity challenge. With the five original Vavau members sticking close, Phoebe sensed she was on the chopping block.
But after using the hidden immunity idol Rohan had kept to save herself, Phoebe saw her dream of evening out the numbers flame out when Kat and Kristie turned and ousted Rohan.
Who spoke to Rohan MacLaren, a Melbourne-based, 28-year-old model and charity worker, about becoming the seventh person to leave Australian Survivor.
Q: And here we are.
A: Snuffed out and I'm here! I was expecting to last longer. I felt like I was in a relatively strong position, and I was, until the merge happened and it was immediately prior to my departure!
Q: You were such buds with Lee, and you two battled it our during that basketball challenge.
A: That's the thing. We were like brothers on Aganoa. When we were sitting on the beach out there in the Samoan sunset, we were having chats like, 'Hey, I'm actually looking forward to competing against you.' We're both pretty strong guys, evenly matched and we were just interested in seeing how the old buck and the young gun were going to go against each other! That's why in the show you see at the end we had a warm embrace. It's like, 'Congratulations, mate. Absolutely no hard feelings whatsoever.'
Q: You've said you had no regrets about giving the hidden immunity idol to Phoebe for her to play. When did you actually hand it to her?
A: So it was 10 minutes before we started walking out to tribal. There was no time to think. She came up to me and said, 'I need your help tonight. I'm going home.' I said, 'Are you sure?' She said, 'Yes.' I said, 'Well, I'm here for you. I've got your back. Let's do this. There's a play we can make here. We can take control of this tribe. If it's you, then this is the last time before the door closes. You've got the connection with the girls, you sort it out, I'll go dig up the idol.' I placed it in her bag as we were walking out and no one could see. Did it on the fly.
Q: You thought it would work?
A: Phoebe and I thought the girls were going to come good. But I'm a man of my word, and I said I was going to vote for Kat. It's irrelevant if I vote for Kat because all we needed was one of the girls to vote for Sue. If the girls don't come on board, I'm gone. I was actually glad I went out the way I did, sticking with Phoebe. That's the game as well. Hats off to them if it ends out working in their favour or if they have any regrets from making that play.
Q: Did you realise Kat heard your strategy talk?
A: I knew conversations about Kat were going to be overheard by her. She was going around telling everybody everything that happened in Aganoa. I was like, I'm being out here, I'm being transparent, don't listen blindly to the stories of Kat. I was showing vulnerability and vulnerability can sometimes be used to build trust and without telling my side of the story, I'd be stuffed.
Q: So no hard feelings about Kat's game play?
A: No, not at all. I can't impact or change the way someone thinks about me. She's been quite vocal about me in a slightly negative way, which is a bit confusing to me because when we were on the island, she wasn't eating a bit there and I would go chop coconuts for her, try to look after her and congratulate her after challenges. But her way up was to wage a campaign against me and that's OK. That was her game and good on her.
Q: What have you been doing since you got home?
A: When I came back, I found it hard to return to civilisation. It's a big experience and it makes you sit back and evaluate what you're doing. I used to run the Rwandan government's investment board for three years up until February, so I thought I had done a lot of work with charities overseas, so I thought I hadn't done anything in my own backyard of Australia. So I went driving up in the Kimberley in a four-wheel drive all by myself for a few weeks and living in an indigenous community. So now I'm involved with Ygap, a group that empowers social entrepreneurs to lift themselves out of poverty. The Survivor experience made me explore again and see what things I can do to help.
Q: Have you gotten new modelling gigs from your Australian Survivor exposure?
A: I don't know. I've always worked relatively steadily. I just did a fashion show for Myer a couple days ago and shot a campaign for Aquila on Friday and a couple other things as well, like some stuff for Bonds. I don't know if any of it is directly related to Survivor. We'll see!