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Survivor's Coach on Phillip: 'I Hope He Makes It Far'

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Monty Brinton/CBS/Landov(2) blogger Stephen Fishbach spoke with Survivor‘s original samurai, "Coach" Benjamin Wade, to get his perspective on Redemption Island’s new breakout maniac, Phillip Sheppard.

How do you feel about the comparisons between you and Phillip?
At the beginning of the season, I was kind of insulted. You know, we’re really not alike. Phillip’s done nothing in his life, and I’ve done everything. But as Boston Rob said to me, “emulation is the highest form of flattery.”

Were you upset when Phillip called Matt a "samurai warrior?" That seems pretty clearly Coach territory.
Yeah, it’s Coach territory. But as long as people continue to say my name, I won’t get bothered by it.

Will more players now adopt mythological lingo because they see it’s a great way to get airtime?
When I went out there, I said I wanted to change the game. It’s funny that I changed it in ways that I didn’t want to or expect to. But I don’t really think the stuff that Phillip is saying is a part of who he is. I think that a lot of it is just a shtick that he’s come up with.

So you don’t think he’s a former federal agent?
I took truths that I had done and forged them into a character. I think that Phillip has taken a very small amount of truth and then magnified it. The way he talks about it, it makes everybody wonder. Was he FBI? Was he secret service? He might have worked at the post office in Okeechobee swamp.

Do you think Phillip is playing for the cameras?
The editors are squeezing it out of him. He is puffing up a like a peacock and strutting around because they are giving him that confidence. He sure as hell isn’t getting that confidence from anybody else out there. He doesn’t have an alliance! He’s Boston Rob’s redheaded stepchild.

Is Boston Rob playing Phillip correctly?
Boston Rob is the only person in the world, including myself, that could have actually handled Phillip. It’s amazing!

Jeff Probst has hinted that he’d like to see you and Phillip team up on a future All-Stars. Could we expect a Phillip-Coach alliance?
There are a lot of things that Phillip does wrong but you can’t question his straightforward manner, his integrity. He’s talked about it – that honor and integrity that I brought out in Tocantins. Every time somebody says those two words together, my heart beats just a little bit faster. So would I see a natural lineup and a natural alliance with Phillip? Yes.

What would the alliance name be?
I had to think of something between a lion and a gorilla, and something he would love, military-wise. So, Team Cobra, because eventually Phillip’s going to bite you in the ass.

Which two animals would you have tattooed on your arms? And what would they represent?
I have a shark tattooed on my left side, and I like the shark, because it’s vicious, it’s cutthroat. That’s one of my totems for being an American Indian. And I’ve always wanted to be a sea otter, because I think I have a playful side that people don’t really see.

Final thoughts?
I hope he makes it far. I really do. I hope that someone thinks that Phillip is just crazy enough that they’ll take him along to the end. And I am really looking forward to meeting him.

What’s the first thing you’ll ask him?
The first thing I’ll ask him is, “Dude, are you for real?” The same thing that people ask me!

Survivor: Redemption Island airs on CBS Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.