‘If I’m A Goat I’m The Best Goat That Ever Played’: Mark ‘Tarzan’ Herlaar Knew Loyalty Wouldn’t Get Him To The End
The fan-favourite first played the game of Survivor in 2017 where his loyalty to his underdog alliance saw him voted out on Day 11.
Though he admitted it was “daunting” to return for All Stars with the least amount of days under his belt of all the returning castaways, Tarzan stuck to his brand of loyalty throughout.
On Monday’s tribal council, the first votes cast for Tarzan all season were the ones that sent him home.
“First time my name gets mentioned and I go home,” Tarzan said to 10 daily over the phone with a hearty laugh, “Funny story there”.
When he first played Survivor for Season 2, many criticised his strategy -- or what they saw as a lack of strategy -- saying his loyalty was ultimately his downfall.
“When I played in 2017 people said I lost because I was loyal, I guess you could say the same in this game,” he said. “I had the opportunity to flip and I didn’t.”
Instead, Tarzan formed one of the strongest alliances -- possibly ever in Australian Survivor -- that saw himself, Sharn, Moana and David the Golden God all happily reaching the final five. With Brooke beating the alliance to immunity time and time again, they had no choice but to turn on each other.
“I was feeling as if my neck was on the chopping block,” Tarzan said, “I had some discussions with Dave and Mo and they assured me it wasn’t but you could smell the energy. Probably for a day or two,” he added.
Tarzan said conversations with his alliance began to be few and far between, he noticed people were making eye contact a little bit less.
It was also the last chance for Dave to play the last of his idols. The last time he did, Dave played his idol on Tarzan’s behalf. This time, Tarzan knew that wasn’t going to happen again.
“I knew he wasn’t going to play that idol for anyone but himself. It was his last chance to play an idol, and Dave’s going to get Dave to the end,” Tarzan said. “He’s a formidable player, a brilliant man and he’s brilliant at the game. For him to play his idol for me would have just opened him up to go, he wasn’t going to do that.”
Still, it didn’t stop Tarzan from attempting to assure Dave that his best bet at reaching the final two was to keep his most loyal ally around. “We’re being completely honest, it’s after the event. The reality is I probably said to Dave on numerous occasions -- coming second to Dave was a win for me.
“I worked side-by-side with him for 46 days,” Tarzan continued, “I also understand you don’t want to take the guy to the end who looks like an easy win. I understand why they turned on me, in the eyes of fans I could be seen as the proverbial goat.”
In the Survivor lexicon, a goat is a player with very little chance of winning if they make it to the final tribal. Be it because of a botched social game, or a weak résumé.
“If you haven’t played the game of Survivor, you don’t know,” Tarzan said, “and if I am a goat? I’m the best goat that ever played.”
His goat status comes from the idea that Tarzan didn’t make any big moves, an idea he completely rejects.
“A good example is when Jacqui flipped on Zach, you’ve lost my loyalty. You stepped outside of my alliance, betrayed us so you’re going home. As everyone in our alliance, I was instrumental in her going home. An alliance is exactly that, if we don’t agree, then you’re flipping. We have to agree.”
Like in life, Tarzan explained, everyone is loyal to a point.
Despite the criticism of being too loyal the first time around, Tarzan didn’t make any major strategic changes to his gameplay, but he did go in with a new approach.
“I tried to play a bit different, I tried to gain the respect of my fellow contestants. I think I did that through the challenges, I smashed a lot of it.
“You’re winning their confidence as well, and to top that off Mo and Dave often said, ‘I know Tarzan’s got my back’. I know the jury doesn’t view loyalty as a credit, but I think it’s undervalued.
“I play the way I play,” Tarzan continued, “the fact is it’s not the fans that vote for you at the end. It’s the jury and if I had gotten to the final two I knew I didn’t have enough gameplay in their opinion. It’s the lying and the backstabbing that gets you credit.”
Saying he considers himself “the most loyal player to ever play”, looking back he has been thrilled with his time returning to Survivor. While many found it so much harder the second time around, Tarzan was begging to be let back on the beach.
“I was dropping weight, getting fitter and stronger. I wasn’t injured and never got sick. I was getting better at most of it, I reckon I could have gone another 50 days,” he said.
When he got home, he struggled to sleep in a regular bed, and normal food didn’t sit right.
“I thrive in that environment. It would be great if they had a show like last man standing, I’d probably last twelve months,” he said with a laugh.
“Regardless of how people think I played, what they don’t understand is that I’m absolutely thrilled with every moment and I’m thrilled Survivor gave me the opportunity not once but twice.”