Jonathan LaPaglia hosts season three of Australian Survivor: Champions vs Contenders.
Jonathan LaPaglia hosts season three of Australian Survivor: Champions vs Contenders. Nigel Wright

Champions vs Contenders will be a battle of wills

ALL eyes will be on Australian Survivor as the reality series tests out a new format for the global TV franchise.

The new season pits high-profile "champions" including former NRL star Mat Rogers, Olympic gold medallist Shane Gould and Women's AFL star Moana Hope against everyday Aussie "contenders".

"I think people will tune in initially to see who else is on the champions tribe," host Jonathan LaPaglia says.

"It will definitely help drive the narrative for the season."

Even though many of them are current or former professional athletes, LaPaglia believes the champions have a mental, rather than physical, edge over the contenders.

"Physically they were pretty evenly matched," he says.

Castaways dive into their first challenge in season three of Australian Survivor: Champions vs Contenders.
Castaways dive into their first challenge in season three of Australian Survivor: Champions vs Contenders. Nigel Wright

"The one thing the champions have is that they've spent their entire careers training to win. That's the difference between the two tribes. They had that mental edge.

"They're over-achievers. When they're given an opportunity to achieve something like this, that's what really appeals to them - to climb the next mountain."

Former commando turned para-athlete Damien Thomlinson is also the first amputee to compete on the Australian series.

"We had concerns that some things would be difficult and there were some physical limitations, but it didn't really become an issue," LaPaglia says.

"His tribe would pick up the slack where needed and he overcompensated in other areas. It all kind of worked out in the end. He really surprised everyone."

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So what do the contenders have going for them? Strategy, LaPaglia says.

"The contenders were a little more inclined to swing at the fence strategy-wise," he says.

"The champions were less well-versed in the mechanics of the show. They were discovering it as they were going along."

The contenders already revealed include an astrophysicist, a mum-of-four and a takeaway delivery driver.

Survivor is a game of tribal strategy whilst battling the elements and challenges testing strength, endurance and mental agility.

This year that will take place against a new backdrop as the show also moves from Samoa to Savusavu, Fiji.

"We enjoyed Samoa but I think we shot the crap out of that one," LaPaglia says.

"It was nice to have a new location and a new environment. Fiji is really, really pretty.

"We also have a whole new tribal council area built over the water on stilts, which really looks amazing. We have all these decks and pathways built over the water, but of course we're subject to tides. One night we got completely washed out."

Australian Survivor: Champions vs Contenders premieres next Wednesday, August 1 at 7.30pm on Ten.



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