SAS Australia 2023: meet the cast

SAS Australia 2023: meet the cast

Fourteen celebrities will attempt to meet the selection standard of the SAS in the new season of SAS Australia.

Filmed in the Jordanian desert, they spend 10 brutal days and nights, living in grim camp conditions.: drop toilets, one bucket of cold water to shower with daily, unappealing rations and stretcher beds over a sand floor. Sleep-deprived and missing the comforts of home, they’ll endure scorching desert heat across the day and the freezing cold of night.

Each day, they’ll endure tasks that will push them to their limits physically and mentally, beyond their own perception. If the pain is too much to bear, they can voluntarily withdraw from the course. Some will sustain injuries and be medically withdrawn, and some will last 10 days. Throughout the course, each recruit will tell their story behind the headlines in confronting confessionals.

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Directing Staff L to R: Anthony “Staz” Stazicke, Ollie Ollerton, Chief Instructor Ant Middleton, and Jamie “Jay” Morton.

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Abbey Holmes

Age (On Course): 32
Current Hometown: Melbourne
Profession: AFL Field Commentator

Why did you want to enlist in SAS Australia?
I’m always looking to challenge myself and do something to get out of my comfort zone.
How would you describe your experience on the course?
It was a brutal but amazing experience. I don’t think anything can prepare you for how real and how raw it is.
What training did you do in preparation for the course?
I was already in training for New Zealand’s Coast to Coast 30km mountain ride, which assisted my physical training. But the main one for me was the psychological and mental side; I really had to hone in on that. I’m a very emotional person so I had to prepare myself for what the DS was going to throw at us.
When did it hit home that this course was 100% real?
The first minute of seeing the DS. They make it extremely real and that was a shock to the system. There was no easing in. It was on like Donkey Kong from that first minute!

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Anthony Mundine

Age (On Course): 47
Current Hometown: Sydney
Profession: World Champion Boxer

What did you learn about yourself through this experience?
I learned the true depths of my mental strength.
Do you have any regrets?
Yes.
Would you ever do it again?
Yeah, definitely. The people were very cool and easy to get along with.
They call this the toughest test. Do you agree?
Yes.
What advice would you give to future SAS recruits?
Definitely have a crack. It’s amazing. You will learn and grow so much and make life-long friends

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Boyd Cornder

Age (On Course): 30
Current Hometown: Sydney
Profession: Retired NRL Star

Why did you want to enlist in SAS Australia?
I thought it would be a good challenge after I retired from the NRL. And it would test me both physically and mentally.
How would you describe your experience on the course?
It was great to be honest. It didn’t disappoint at all. I loved the fact that it was in the Middle East.
What training did you do in preparation for the course?
I maintained my normal gym fitness routine and added in hikes and dune running.
When did it hit home that this course was 100% real?
When I was on my way to the airport, I started getting really nervous, and that’s when it all became very real.
Was the experience more or less challenging than you expected?
It was pretty much what I expected. I was preparing myself for the worst.

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Cassie Sainsbury

Age (On Course): 28
Current Hometown: Adelaide
Profession: Convicted Drug Smuggler

When did it hit home that this course was 100% real?
The moment that you heard the DS yelling and running at you. For me, it was like the guards running at the inmates all over again.
Was SAS more or less challenging than you expected?
I hadn’t expected my asthma to be an issue, but it flared up and made everything 10 times harder. It made an already hard experience quite dangerous.
What was the highlight of this process for you?
Trying to confront the trauma that was controlling me. It took all my willpower to try and pull myself together.
What were the hardest things about this process for you?
For me, it was the PTSD that it forced me to face. I had to acknowledge that prison had left a permanent mark on me. And being in the desert really messed with my asthma. It made me struggle with the most simple things.

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Dr. Craig Challen

Age (On Course): 57
Current Hometown: Perth
Profession: Thai Cave Rescue Hero

Would you ever do it again?
I don’t know. Part of me says, “ticked that one off and move on to the next thing.” But I also feel it would be good to have another go.
They call this the toughest test. Do you agree?
It’s the only test I’ve ever done on TV, so I have no basis for an opinion. But it was about as tough as a caving expedition, so not too bad.
This is the first Australian season to be shot in the Middle East. Can you describe the climate and terrain on the course and how this impacted your experience?
It was warm but not really hot. The terrain was basically a lot of sand. All of this is familiar if you come from Western Australia. I’ve spent quite a bit of time out in the desert, so the conditions suited me. I’m probably more used to it than most on the course.
What advice would you give to future SAS recruits?
Go for it.

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Craig McLachlan

Age (On Course): 57
Current Hometown: Sydney
Profession: Actor

Why did you want to enlist in SAS Australia?
I wanted the opportunity to exorcise pain with pain.
How would you describe your experience on the course?
Extraordinary.
What training did you do in preparation for the course?
Believe it or not, hardly any, as I had to undergo abdominal surgery not long before we started. But I carefully did what I could and passed the barrier and cardio tests a couple of days before shipping out.
When did it hit home that this course was 100% real?
At the precise moment Ant Middleton and his merry men jumped out of helicopters that had been hovering over us, sandblasting us out in the middle of the desert. They raced over to us screaming, shoved us down into the scorching sand, bagged our noggins (black hoods over our heads) and double-timed us through the dunes to waiting graves!
Was SAS more or less challenging than you expected?
It was all I imagined and more.

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Jason Akermanis

Age (On Course): 46
Current Hometown: Brisbane
Profession: AFL Hall of Famer

What did you learn about yourself through this experience?
How good my life is.
Do you have any regrets?
No.
Would you ever do it again?
No.
They call this the toughest test. Do you agree?
Yes, that is correct. Nothing is harder on TV than this show.
This is the first Australian season to be shot in the Middle East. Can you describe the climate and terrain on course and how this impacted your experience?
During the day it was hot and dry and everyone’s lips were cracked. The nights were dry and cold.
What advice would you give to future SAS recruits?
Do not go on it.

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Lindy Klim

Age (On Course): 45
Current Hometown: Bali
Profession: Balinese Princess

What training did you do in preparation for the course?
I did a combination of functional training, hot Pilates and lots of hiking with a 12kg backpack on. I even started running for the first time. I had only seen roughly 10 minutes of the show before and wished I had trained more specifically for the show’s needs.
When did it hit home that this course was 100% real?
The minute I was shoved to the ground face down with such force, and then had the bag put over my face by one of the DS.
Was SAS more or less challenging than you expected?
It was definitely a lot harder and more real than I had anticipated.
Did anything about the experience surprise you?
Yes, everything. Part of me wishes I had watched more episodes of the show beforehand, but in saying that, I would have most likely pulled out and not pushed myself to the limit.
What was the highlight of this process for you?
I did enjoy getting fit again, especially after COVID. The training gave me a purpose and I loved meeting all the other amazing recruits.

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Mahalia Murphy

Age (On Course): 29
Current Hometown: Sydney
Profession: International Rugby Star

What were the hardest things about this process for you?
Reflecting on my childhood experiences because it wasn’t easy to talk about and feel those emotions when sharing.
What did you learn about yourself through this experience?
Mental strength can get you anywhere.
Would you ever do it again?
100%. I would love to.
They call this the toughest test. Do you agree?
I agree. You are not prepared enough and you don’t know what to expect. It pushes your mind and body to the limits.
This is the first Australian season to be shot in the Middle East. Can you describe the climate and terrain on the course and how this impacted your experience?
It was absolutely hot! The sand dunes were tough. It made every part of the body switch on and burn whilst running. Felt like you were on a treadmill.

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Matthew Mitcham

Age (On Course): 35
Current Hometown: London
Profession: Olympic Gold Diver

What were the hardest things about this process for you?
I’m fine with cold. I’m fine with wet. But there is something particularly demoralising about being cold and wet for hours at a time, almost every day.
What did you learn about yourself through this experience?
That I’m a badass!
Would you ever do it again?
100%.
They call this the toughest test. Do you agree?
I do. The DS are clever: they don’t just flog you so hard that you quit. That would be too easy. They flog you to the edge of breaking physically, mentally and emotionally. They know when you’re right at the edge and they hold you there day after day after day. I’ve never been so drained.
This is the first Australian season to be shot in the Middle East. Can you describe the climate and terrain on the course and how this impacted your experience?
As soon as the sun was gone, it was cold. There was one afternoon task that was in a deep valley sheltered from the sun. I was one of the first to do the task, so I was waiting for a couple of hours, dripping wet in the cold, shivering violently like a small child.
What advice would you give to future SAS recruits?
100%. Could not recommend more highly.

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Peter Bol

Age (On Course): 29
Current Hometown: Melbourne
Profession: Olympic Runner

How would you describe your experience on the course?
It was a great experience at the right time of my life. I enjoyed the simplicity of living with no phones (technology), no clock and the day-to-day noise.
What training did you do in preparation for the course?
I did rock climbing, weight vest hiking at strange hours, cold showers, sand running and boxing.
When did it hit home that this course was 100% real?
On day one.
Was SAS more or less challenging than you expected?
It was a lot more challenging than I expected. I am used to pushing my body to its absolute limits, but this took that to a whole other level.
What was the highlight of this process for you?
The experience allowed me to discover a lot about myself and I met some really amazing people along the way.

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Stephanie Rice

Age (On Course): 34
Current Hometown: Brisbane
Profession: Olympic Champion

They call this the toughest test. Do you agree?
Yes, I agree. For most people, the entire course is completely outside their comfort zone, with nowhere to hide. Your true, authentic self will always shine through. This show, this course, brings out everyone’s true character.
This is the first Australian season to be shot in the Middle East. Can you describe the climate and terrain on the course and how this impacted your experience?
It was the most incredible location. Knowing it was overseas added an extra element of intensity, adventure and stress. When we arrived, I was completely blown away by how stunning and mystical the location was. The sand and heat were two big factors that I tried to train for and get more comfortable with.
What was the toughest thing about life on base camp?
Sleeping! Without a doubt, that was the toughest. Not knowing when or if you would get woken up for a beasting. Do you sleep with the full kit on, or take the shoes off for a better sleep, not knowing how long it would take to put them back on.

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Tim Robards

Age (On Course): 40
Current Hometown: Sydney
Profession: OG Bachelor

Why did you want to enlist in SAS Australia?
My body is getting older. I’ve had many injuries and some degeneration over the last few years and I feel like I’m
battling against it on a daily basis. People around me are telling me to slow down and essentially, it’s time to give it up. That doesn’t sit right with me. I need always to be moving forward in some way.
How would you describe your experience on the course?
Traumatic. It was a rude awakening. Even though I had mentally prepared so much, nothing prepares you for the constant state of gruelling stress, fear and anxiety the DS create. The challenges are one thing, but the daily anxiety is a whole other weight that takes its toll.
What training did you do in preparation for the course?
I changed my training to be more specific to what I would endure. That meant a mixture of more walking/running with weight vests, more HIIT and more functional training. The biggest change was to make each session a challenge for the mind too.
Was SAS more or less challenging than you expected?
Much more. I knew it would be hard and I thought I was prepared. But the hardest part of the course is constantly being on edge, knowing that at any stage, you could be checked, challenged or tested and if you screw up or make a mistake or  forget something, your whole team will suffer. It’s the burden that you will be responsible for the suffering of others.

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Zima Anderson

Age (On Course): 25
Current Hometown: Melbourne
Profession: Actress

What did you learn about yourself through this experience?
I learned I am strong. Incredibly strong and I really need to stop doing things to prove my strength to others. My talent, skill and strength know no bounds. I now know this in my soul.
Any regrets?
No regrets. But l I wish I believed in myself a little more towards the end and was easier on myself.
Would you ever do it again?
Yes x10000.
They call this the toughest test. Do you agree?
Yeah, it’s pretty real. There’s no smoke and mirrors here and that’s the only reason I did it. I love that it’s the only reality show where you are supporting each other’s attempts.
What advice would you give to future SAS recruits?
Do it. Prepare. Make sure you take care of your mind and are prepared both mentally and physically.

SAS Australia 7:30pm Monday – Wednesday on Seven.