Tuesday night on SAS Australia the gruelling course claimed three recruits, with Cassie Sainsbury and Lindy Klim voluntarily withdrawing, while retired NRL star Boyd Cordner suffered a devastating medical withdrawal.
After a scant breakfast of porridge and boiled eggs, the 13 remaining recruits faced a dangerous run-and-jump extraction drill, jumping into coastal waters before scaling 10 metres to a hovering Black Hawk helicopter.
During the task, retired NRL star Boyd Cordner suffered an excruciating pectoral tear before revealing the anguish of early retirement to thwart the onset of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
"I had days there where I'd break down crying. Just being in the media nearly every day at that time and everyone knowing your business, it was, yeah, it was all a bit too much for me."
"At the end of the day it was my decision. I didn't know what the next head knock would bring. It's quite a scary thought when you think about the long-term effects that concussion or TBIs [traumatic brain injuries] could have."
Boyd was medically withdrawn from the course after news from Dr Dan that his injury would soon require surgery and further tasks could cause permanent damage.
Feeling the rigours of the course more than most, Balinese Princess Lindy Klim decided to VW, admitting she didn't have the physical strength to pass the course.
"I did think I would really struggle being completely out of my comfort zone. I hate being dirty, and I hate sand and I hate camping. I feel quite chuffed that I managed to get through two days, so yeah I feel good."
During a sickening test to control panic in a 30-metre network of submerged pipelines, convicted drug smuggler Cassie Sainsbury was unable to commit to the task and was the third recruit to VW.
"It is probably one of the first times in a long time that I feel proud of myself in the sense of facing everything I didn't ever want to see again."
"When I leave the SAS course 'Cocaine Cassie' dies there. That's it. She doesn't follow me around anymore."
With more experience in tight, submerged tunnels than anyone on the course, Thai cave rescue hero Craig Challen was last to enter the pipeline. Despite his qualifications, he made the fatal mistake of going face down in the tunnel rather than face-up to find the air pocket.
Later, during an interrogation with the DS, Craig recounted the story behind the historic saving of 13 lives and how it made him feel.
"To get all of them out at the end, yeah, it's just like the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders. To have a one hundred percent success rate and all of them out alive, even as I sit here today, I still can't really believe that it worked out that well.”
Wednesday night on SAS Australia: It's high-rise panic as recruits repel down an abandoned air traffic control tower, then experience live ammunition training, where one mistake could prove fatal.
The star recruits remaining on SAS Australia in 2023 are:
Abbey Holmes, 32 – AFL Field Commentator
Anthony Mundine, 47 – World Champion Boxer
Dr Craig Challen, 57 – Thai Cave Rescue Hero
Craig McLachlan, 57 – Actor
Mahalia Murphy, 29 – International Rugby Star
Matthew Mitcham, 35 – Olympic Gold Diver
Peter Bol, 29 – Olympic Runner
Stephanie Rice, 34 – Olympic Champion
Tim Robards, 40 – OG Bachelor
Zima Anderson, 25 – Actor
SAS Australia - continues 7.30pm Wednesday on Channel 7 and 7plus