“I could feel the reception of the jury once they had realised what I’d done, and that was intense,” Sam tells New Idea.
“So, I was never going to play the idol for myself because that would kind of feed into people thinking I was more villainous, and more selfish,” she admits.
“I needed it to either be used to save someone else and create trust to move forward. Or, as you saw, to give up my game for Mark, and kind of cop the heat from the move and hopefully give Mark a little bit less damage from the jury.”
While Sam’s plan paid off, leaving her husband in the game with two idols and a strong chance of winning, it got mixed reactions from both the fans and her fellow players.
“When I got to the Jury Villa, it was frosty,” she says with a laugh.
“It’s very surreal … you’re so malnourished, you are emotionally a little bit broken, and you need a bit of comfort and love, but you also have to give respect to the fact that the players are hurt, and their game was taken away,” the endurance athlete says of her fellow jurors.
“They needed that night … to kind of see me as a person again, not a player. I connected with all of those people very much … and Jesse and I watched the episode together last night, so there’s no hard feelings there!”
However, viewers at home have been slightly less forgiving towards Sam and her approach in the game.
“I definitely copped personal hate,” she confirms.
“We’ve definitely had plenty of male villains, and I find it ironic that they might cop a bit of heat, but most people like the game play.
“We’ve seen it time and time again, David [Genat] did a very similar thing and made it to the end and won with all but one jury vote.”
However, Sam also notes that while we’ve only had seven seasons of Australian Survivor, American Survivor has had 41 seasons to learn to separate the player from their choices in the game.
“I think it will change with time, and I’m not uncomfortable with who I am, or how I play the game. And I'm looking forward to seeing the evolution of the gameplay develop with each season.”
While Sam is hoping her strategy pays off in Mark taking out the title of Sole Survivor, she has also considered who might be a worthy contender for him at the very end.
“Juicy Dave,” she says with very little hesitation, referring to the rather quiet David Goodchild.
“You probably haven't seen the full extent, but he knew when to play low and when to fight… I think he is actually playing a really good game.
“I wish he would have communicated a bit more with me in the game, but, um, he didn't,” she laughs.
With two seasons now under her belt, Sam exudes All-Star calibre, but she remains unsure on whether she would play again.
“It’s so hard to say, it’s so raw right now,” she says.
“It would just depend on the timing of life and what the theme might be.
“I guess there's this interest of what it could be like if I could play on my own,” she ponders, given she’s now played alongside Mark twice.
“But I feel so privileged to have been able to play this incredible game twice. I’m living in the now, and I’m just really delighted with what we were able to do out there.”
Survivor continues next week, airing on Channel 10 on Sunday and Monday night at 7:30pm.