Australian Survivor: Will Hayley Leake be the last one standing?

This PhD candidate did not come to play.
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We’re down to the last few castaways on Australian Survivor: Brains V Brawn, and fans of the show are watching closely through multiple twists and turns to see who will take out the title of Sole Survivor for 2021.

WATCH BELOW: Australian Survivor Brains V Brawn: Meet Hayley

However, there is one name among the bunch that keeps popping up. Hayley Leake is a Sydney-based physiotherapist and PhD candidate who studies the neuroscience of pain and its effects on the brain.

Although she kept quiet and mostly flew under the radar for the first half of the season, a few big moves have proven that Hayley did not come to play.

She is currently the predicted winner on Sportsbet, with odds at 1.25, and if every season of The Bachelor is anything to go by, the gambling site often knows the winner long before we do.

Hayley recently posted a picture of herself walking at Bondi. (Credit: Instagram)

So, who is Hayley?

The 31-year-old lives in Sydney and is currently working on a PhD in neuroscience and pain at the University of South Australia, and also conducts research at Neuroscience Research Australia.

Her research, which often centres on paediatric and adolescent pain, has been presented at a national and international level.

Aside from her research, Hayley’s social media shows off a life filled with travel, snowboarding, family, and her fiancé, Jimmy.

Hayley with her fiancee, Jimmy. (Credit: Instagram)

The biggest focuses in Hayley’s backstory so far have been her work as a researcher, and her love of dance, which has given her great physical strength and ability.

Her area of study saw her joining the Brains tribe at the beginning of the season, but she went on to prove herself valuable to both sides when the tribes were switched up.

Despite her natural smarts and physical abilities, Hayley also set herself up for the game knowing she had good manipulation skills.

Hayley has been open about her manipulation skills. (Credit: Ten)

“One thing you wouldn’t know about me is that I’m an expert manipulator,” she said in her introduction video for the season.

She went on to explain how delivering placebo treatments in her studies, where she had to convince patients they were receiving a real treatment, has given her practice in lying and manipulation.

These skills have seen Hayley pull off some of the best social plays of this season to date.

“Part of my strategy was to go in and be that silent assassin,” she told TV Week.

A superfan of the show before going on, she put in mountains of preparation, going so far as to write spreadsheets analysing where players from previous seasons have gone wrong.

Hayley posted about keeping her fingers crossed that Survivor would go ahead considering Covid-19 restrictions. (Credit: Instagram)

“I just knew that I didn’t want to come out as a fan of this show and not try to make my mark,” she said.

Hayley began to make her mark in episode seven, when she very quietly organised a major blindside that saw the leader of one of the Brains’ alliances, Joey, go home.

While her numbers were uncertain, she appealed to other members of her tribe using a strategy tailored to them – using logic to convince Rachel, and the promise of chaos to convince Baden.

She also played a major role in the blindside of Simon, which saw him go home with two immunity idols in his pocket.

Dani has called Hayley her ‘arch nemesis’, but seems to respect her brains. (Credit: Ten)

While correctional officer Dani organised the blindside, Hayley ensured that it was Dani herself – whom she was helping – that received the second most votes, just in case Simon decided to play an idol last minute.

Hayley also seems to have the respect of her fellow castaways, with Dani referring to her as her ‘arch nemesis’, but also admitting that it is her brilliant smarts that make her such a threat.

Hayley, who is unafraid to play her own game, no matter who it upsets, might just be able to use those smarts to make it to the very end.

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