Mat admits his biggest strategy going into the house was to align himself with people who could take him “a fair way” into the game.
“I wanted to be the neck, not the head, meaning whatever groups or alliances I was in, I wanted to have a say in all the decisions that were made, but I didn’t want to be seen as driving those decisions because that could end with people coming back for you,” he explains.
“For the most part, I’ve pulled it off pretty well.”
He also had a secret weapon of sorts – previous Big Brother star Trevor Butler.
The Season 4 champion hails from Mat’s hometown of Broken Hill, and gave Mat some coaching on what it takes to win.
“My uncle was actually pretty good mates with Trev back in the day … Trev’s been great, he’s a legend. After I was announced [as going on the show] he got in contact and said if there’s anything he can help out with, let him know.
"He said that his game plan was just to be himself, and I thought if I do that and see myself as being good enough, then I’ll win and the rest will take care of itself.”
Given Trevor’s victory, Mat admits he feels pressure to bring home a second win, especially given the hardship Broken Hill has gone through in recent years due to the drought.
“I’ll be run out of town if I don’t win. We’re very proud people and my name will be mud,” he laughs. “If I win, it’ll give everyone out here a reason to smile and something to be proud of.
“There was a bit of a lull in the community … Broken Hill has been struggling with the drought. Over summer, there were relentless dust storms as everything is literally dead around us, in terms of vegetation. My first cousin, who I grew up with like a sister, is on a property about 300km from Broken Hill and they’ve really been hit for six, financially and mentally. Their place looks like the surface of Mars. There’s just nothing.
“I’ve got a couple of mates on surrounding properties too. They’re doing it tough, that’s for sure. We’ve had a little bit of rain of late, which has been great. Hopefully there’s more on the way.”
It’s clear Broken Hill is a place Matt holds dear to his heart. He met Jessica Byrne during high school there, and after nine years of dating, Mat finally proposed last October in Saratoga Springs, in upstate New York.
The couple are planning their wedding, which will likely take place late next year. And, it will end up doubling as a Big Brother reunion!
“Hopefully Shane will be our celebrant. We had a couple of good chats about it in the house … it’d be pretty cool. He’s been voted Australia’s best celebrant twice for a reason, so hopefully he’s willing to make the trip out here. And I reckon there’s definitely an MC role on the cards for Dan. I’m just really milking the whole Big Brother experience!”