Simon Black ‘emotional wreck’ after Survivor
He was emotionally worn down and plagued with injuries, but AFL great Simon Black says it took Australian Survivor for him to get back his competitive edge.
But the former Brownlow medallist said the Channel 10 reality series taught him that competition was something missing from his life since he retired from AFL, after 16 seasons with the Brisbane Lions, in 2013.
"I turned 40 a few weeks before I went (on the show)," Black told Confidential. "I haven't competed for five or six years, so to get back in competition was a real thrill. I learnt it was good for me to compete and that's been missing from my life."
A long-time fan of the series, Black put off an AFL Hall of Fame induction due to filming commitments, and will instead receive the honour next year.
He is one of a number of athletes competing in the new Champions team, which also includes Andrew Ettingshausen, Steven Bradbury and Nova Peris.
But carrying a back injury into filming meant Black struggled to sleep, which, as well as leaving wife Catherine and their three children - aged 7, 5, and 1 - at home in Brisbane, wore him down mentally.
"I hurt myself a bit. I hurt my knee, my hamstring in another challenge. I was hobbling around a bit. I'm a shell of what I used to be," he said.
"I remember my first night, with my back I couldn't sleep on the rocks so I went down to the beach and I woke up to the waves crashing on me, slightly saturated thinking 'oh well, this is Survivor'."
"The lack of food and sleep and the gamesmanship side, the combination of it all can really wear you down."
"I was an emotional wreck by the end of it."
A nice guy of the AFL, Black said while he struggled with the untrustworthy nature of the game, his tactic was to use his team skills to build alliances.
"Covering your own back is very different from footy. But early on there's a real team element and social element … so if you are genuine and show people who you are and do what you say, that can build trust and if you can do that from the outset that pays a lot later in the game," he said.
"I was just asking people about their background and what their passions are to build a rapport."
"But the first time you hear something you are meant to have said that's made up, it gets your back up. You have to realise this is a game and you have to either get over it … or it eats you up."
"I had to just make sure I was with the majority and have faith that the people I aligned with did what they said they would do, and most of the time they did."
The new season of Australian Survivor will premiere at 7.30pm on July 24 on Channel 10.