Craig blind-sided as Survivor idol play sends him home
DESPITE winning over his Australian Survivor castaways with his wit, charm and physical strength in challenges, the power of the immunity idol was too much for Craig I'Anson.
Craig became the 10th contestant voted off the Samoan island of Upolu after Vavau's strong alliance of four's move to vote off Phoebe Timmins backfired as she played the immunity idol.
It was the same idol Craig had spent countless hours searching for in the trunk of a majestic tree located east of the Vavau campsite.
Craig's departure is one of the biggest game shake-ups this season and his head is still reeling from it.
"It was the double-hitter of a blind-side and an idol play," he said.
"I walked into tribal council with (our majority) going to vote out Phoebe and because Connor and Kate played a bit more of an honest game than I was playing, Phoebe caught whiff of this and she pulled the idol out," he said.
"It was a massively stupid move to tell people they were going to be voted for and I did have a mental tantrum when I found out they were going to do that, but it was out of my hands.
"We had no idea she had the idol until she said to Jonathan 'I'm not ready to go home yet,' and I knew she was about to play an idol and my intuition went, 'It's you'."
With tribal council being turned on its head, Sue Clarke, whom Craig affectionately dubbed Suzie Q, looked at Craig and said "See you later guys, it's been fun," expecting she would be the one on the chopping block.
But once Phoebe's four votes were read out, Craig's was the next name pulled out of the box.
"When (Jonathan) said my name, it all became so surreal," Craig said.
"The whole time I was going to get my torch snuffed out and walking down that path away from tribal, I was waiting for someone to jump out at me and say 'Tricked ya!'
"The whirlpool of emotions was so overwhelming on that walk, I was upset, I was exhausted and I was happy to know that I would be going home to see Tom and my fur babies, then my mind quickly turned to what the hell I could've done differently in the game and then I was overjoyed that I would get to eat something."
Craig said it was a double-edged sword to have been perceived as both socially and physically powerful in the game.
"I was skipping around thinking, 'This is so fun' and everyone seemed to get on with me, but I never thought being popular would also be seen as a threat," he said.
"But that's who I am and while I would change some aspects of my game if I ever got another chance, I would still be myself, I would still flirt with Jonathan (host Jonathan LaPaglia) every time I saw him and I would still want to kick the boys' butts in competitions," he said.
Craig's eviction came off the back of a series of challenge loses for Vavau and the usually glass-half-full former Sunshine Coast resident said there was a heavy air of frustration around camp.
"It was like we were constantly running at 150 miles an hour," he said.
"In the pre-merge Vavau, we were dominant and would have time to relax before the next challenge, but having the constant losses after the merge meant we were like boulders rolling down a hill.
"I'm a competitive person and I'm not a sore loser, but it was becoming frustrating to continually lose."
Despite Phoebe being the mastermind behind his exit, Craig said he had the utmost respect for her as a Survivor player.
"She is one of the very minimal people who knows what they're doing and is playing how I've seen Survivor played for many years on TV," he said.
"Perhaps I thought I wouldn't be going because I was the more physical of the males and could help us to win challenges and I may have let that relax me a little too much."
Craig said he looked forward to seeing what the backlash would be in the tribe after his departure and although she was no longer a Vavau tribe member, he was firmly backing Sanapu's Jenna LouiseSalkeld for the win.
"She is a beautiful girl, she's hot and she is so smart and although she is completely on the bottom on the other side, I know she can play a game that is smart and she can subtly set things up that no-one else can see," he said.
"When the time comes that those people are in tribal council, that's where Jenna Louise will shine as they will have no idea how clever she can be. She is a force to be reckoned with."
Australian Survivor continues Monday night at 7.30pm on Channel 10.