‘You Write This Down, I Am RETIRED’: Queen Sandra Diaz-Twine Reveals The Differences Between US And Australian Survivor

She’s an undeniable legend in the game, and a force to be reckoned with, but on Sunday night Sandra’s curse reared its head again.

Having won the first two seasons of Survivor US she played, Sandra came up against the ‘curse of Day 16’ where in her following seasons, after making it to a Tribe Swap she was promptly voted out at Day 16. On Sunday night, copping a vote from her own daughter, Sandra once again fell to the curse of Day 16.

“No one knew about the Day 16 curse except for my daughter,” Sandra admitted. “I keep telling everyone, in Pearl Islands when I won the first time there was no Tribe Swaps, it was just the merge happened and that’s it. No one interferes with my game, with the relationships I’m building on a daily basis.

“Same thing with Heroes vs Villains, we didn’t have any Tribe Swaps… and I won those! Now, every time we have a Tribe Swap I’m screwed and I’m out of the game.”

Leading up to the swap, Sandra said she had attempted to scare her original Red tribe out of writing her name down, crafting a story that anyone who has ever written her name down has ether been voted out before her, or made it to the end without winning.

“We were just talking smack… but I was lying,” she added. “Of course Sarah wrote my name down and won Gamechangers… I thought I had scared them enough to stay away from writing my name down, but I obviously didn’t!”

Having played the game so many times, Sandra is clearly a pro when it comes to navigating the world of Survivor, but she also arrives with a hefty target on her back. Coming into Australian Survivor she said she and Nina had done their research, rewatching every season and identifying the slight differences in advantages, twists, and what makes a key player.

“I knew that physical strength and being an asset to the tribe physically was the top thing that they look for, and I don’t possess that,” she said. “I just like to sit out of the challenges. I do pull my part in other ways, but I’ve just never been an athletic person or someone that’s constantly at the gym working out or anything like that.

“I was like, oh my god if I’ve gotta go out there, I’ve gotta change a lot of things about the way I play Survivor and that was one of them!”

In the game Sandra also admitted Aussies come off a lot nicer than their US counterparts.

“I feel like in the US we’re cutthroat from minute one to where, you know, we really didn’t see any action unless we were the tribe going to Tribal Council,” she continued. “Everyone was pretty much good natured and fun to be around.”

With her reputation preceding her as such a legend in the game, and a massive threat, the way that Sandra mitigates her threat level was simply to try and get along with everyone, waiting for the people who wanted to play with her to make themselves known.

“When I’m having a conversation with someone and, if they don’t say ‘Sandra I’m interested in playing with you’ I won’t even broach the subject,” she explained, “They’ll tell me if they want to play with me or not, the way they act towards me. So if I can get my foot in the door, I’m good.”

Though she’s navigated different themes of the game throughout the years, Blood V Water added a whole new dynamic, introducing daughter Nina into the fray.

“She’s been watching the game since she was five-years-old,” Sandra said, “there’s nothing she doesn’t know about Survivor.

“I’m just so proud of her game, because of the athlete she is, I’ve never been an athlete. She gets that from her father, he spent 30 years in the military. She has everything of me, plus everything of him, which is a bigger threat than me. She’s a huge threat.”

After the tribe swap, Nina and Sandra landed on the same tribe for the first time in the game. Despite landing in a new tribe with most of her original alliance, Nina was quite clear that she wanted to be kept out of any plans to blindside her own mum.

Later, at Tribal Council, it seemed like Nina had clued into what the real plan was, and ultimately she wrote Sandra’s name down.

“When you play this game,” Sandra explained, “you do what you have to do to stay in the majority. Don’t sacrifice your game for anyone, especially me, and you’re going to be fine. And that’s exactly what she did.

“I told her, no one can win this game alone, and why write down someone else’s name and have them mad at you when you go back to camp? No one wants their name written down at Tribal Council.”

Though she would have “preferred that she didn’t” write her name down, Sandra had prepared herself for that possibility, understanding that Nina had no other choice.

Sitting at Tribal, listening to her tribe mates discuss ‘sticking to the plan’, Sandra looked over at her daughter who wouldn’t make eye contact with her.

“And then Jordy kept talking… I’m looking at him and he’s looking at specific people and.. I was like uh oh, my goose is cooked. This is it for me.”

Battling the severe Aussie heat, and the unexpectedly cold nights, Sandra also knew she had to step up to meet the gruelling challenges that the series would throw her way, but she said she did it all so Nina could have the chance to play a game she’s loved for so long.

“I knew she wanted to play and I was like, if I have to go out to Australia and do these doggone challenges so that my baby can play the game? Then so be it. And I don’t regret it. I don’t.

“But I’ll never do it again! You write this down: I. Am. RETIRED.”

Australian Survivor: Blood V Water continues Sunday - Tuesday at 7.30 on Network 10 and 10 play on demand