JT and Dylan on Breakfast

Contestants JT and Dylan are in studio with Matty McLean to talk strategy, their experiences and their respective exits. 

JT, how are you feeling? 

I’m fighting fit. I was back to health pretty quickly after coming back to New Zealand, and I'm absolutely fine now. 

But it was pretty rough out there wasn’t it? 

Yeah, and it just got to the point where I wasn’t really playing at all. I wasn’t really able to do much of anything, so I made the decision that you saw on TV. 

That must have been a tough decision to make. You’re a big fan of Survivor, from watching it for a very long time. Then to get on there and be taken out because of a medical reason, choosing to leave yourself, that mustn’t have been easy? 

Yeah I’ve been a fan for 18 years, but my priorities are different now than they were when I started watching it at 13. So it was a tough decision, but also a no-brainer in lots of ways. 

Having watched you for the last five or six weeks, you were a really strong competitor, the person I was watching thinking, “they could get to the end and win the whole thing.” Do you have any regrets, having seen how things were progressing? 

You see an edit, and you hear people saying how well I was playing, and it makes me feel like maybe I could have won.  But I stand by the decision I made at the time, and I don’t think a lot of the cast wanted to sit next to me at the Final Tribal anyway. I think I was a big threat, so my chances of making it were pretty unlikely. 

On the flipside we have you Dylan, another very big superfan. You had a very similar strategic mindset to JT, but people just did not like you. 

Yeah I thought it was interesting to watch the contrast, the similar gameplay that JT and I had, and how it was received by certain people. I certainly wasn’t liked on my tribe, which was unfortunate, but I think I managed to find some people I liked working with. We worked with each other for a certain amount of time, but then it all ended for me. 

What do you think it was about you that people just did not warm to? 

I don’t know, I think I’m just the kind of person who is quite direct. I’m not shy about expressing opinions. Maybe I should’ve got botox and hidden my expressions, because they show all the time on my face. I think that’s what it is, sometimes people don’t like that direct kind of approach in a game like Survivor.   

Because you were always on the backfoot in your tribe, do you feel like you got to play the game that you wanted to play? 

It certainly wasn’t the game that I wanted to play, but when it gets handed to you and you’re the last person picked, you’ve got to just roll with it. That’s just what happened and I said, “well this is it, that’s how you go, and from now on you’ve got to make the best of every situation.” And I think I did that. 

We’re seven weeks in now, and you almost made the merge. It feels like you finally had the numbers on your side, finally in a position where you could have made it through, but then suddenly you’re blindsided. What do you think happened there?  

I spent the majority of my time at Khangkhaw just dulling it down. Once I realised people didn’t want to work with me and talk strategy I was like, “okay let’s just chill out, let’s make myself look non-threatening.”

Then as soon as I got to Chani I started playing really hard. I think that freaked a few of those Khangkhaw boys out. They were like, “woah Dylan hasn’t really been talking any strategy, and now he’s put together a blindside on a massive player. So maybe he isn’t someone we want to go to the merge with, maybe he is a player that could make his way through.” And I think I could’ve.

I think there were ways to get to the merge, and the game opens up when you get there. It’s anyone’s game, so I’m excited to see what happens after this. 

Part of the problem was that Dave and Matt have a relationship outside of the game. Was there any indication on the island that that was a thing? 

JT: So on Chani, every night we had our game plan discussion for what we’d do in a swap. I was obsessed with getting Matt out, and Dave never gave any indication. He played it so well, when I talked about getting Matt out he was all for it. 

It’s going to be fascinating to watch, now that the two big strategic minds are out. Do you think the way the game was played is going to change? 

JT: I don’t think so. I don’t necessarily agree that I’m one of the big strategic minds, I think I’m just able to narrate the strategy. So I think there’s plenty of people there that know what they’re doing. 

Dylan: Yeah I think that JT and I dominated screen time in terms of that strategy part, but I don’t think there’s a shortage of people out there who are willing to play strategically. I think some more people will rise to the occasion and it will be fun to watch. 

Will you still be watching, as fans of the show? 

JT: It might take me a little while, I haven’t even watched the last episode yet. I just want to focus on the parts that I did experience, not the stuff that I wanted to experience.