Wollongong model Simone Holtznagel may have an advantage over other celebrity recruits in the new season of SAS Australia kicking off on Monday, February 21, on Prime7. The beauty, who has worked for brands like Guess and Honey Birdette, went into the show excited for an escape during the last lockdown only to be driven "a few minutes down the road". Read more: Dracula's theatre restaurant is en route to Wollongong "I was like, 'you know what, I will do it', because it would be good to have a goal to work towards during lockdown and keep me focused ... I'll get to go somewhere after being stuck at home for last the last two years," Holtznagel said "Then i get picked up and taken to the Novotel in Wollongong. The 'base camp' we were filming at was at the back of Dapto." The 28-year-old was one of 17 "recruits" - a mix of sports stars, television personalities and even a convicted drug dealer - to be put through 14 days of intense special forces-type training, or "torture" as Holtznagel put it. Heading into the show the model spent weeks with a personal trainer at Dalton Park or on Towradgi Beach. She broke in her boots doing hikes with her baby niece strapped on her back to replicate the weight of the backpack they're given, which is filled with survival essentials. Read more: How Port Kembla's female comedy night got the last laugh "I thought I was really prepared for the show, but nothing prepares you for being set on fire or [nearly] drowned in a plane," she laughed. Each morning recruits stand on the "parade square" and given a brief on what type of challenge they would be tackling (like overcoming panic), then driven to a secret location which often turned out to be not-so-secret for Holtznagel. "I had to drive past my family's house a couple of times," she said. "We're all in the cars and nobody knows where we're going; but I sometimes knew the direction so I'm like 'I wonder if we're going to [HMAS Albatross in Nowra] or I wonder if we're going here', so it worked in my favour. "The day we filmed out at Coalcliff I remember driving through Thirroul and I saw people I knew on the side of the road." Holtznagel conceded she doesn't think people have high expectations she'll make it to the end of the series, but does feel some people's perceptions may change after watching the show. "I keep saying it was 'fun', but it actually wasn't," she said. "I gave it a red hot go, I may or may not have succeeded at some of it, but I did the best could." As for what's next for Simone? More modelling work as the industry has become more forgiving and willing to "evolve" as a model gets older rather than force them to retirement, while Hotznagel will never say "no" to more reality television either. Her sights are on Dancing with the Stars, either as a contestant or to have a crack at the main presenting role if Sonia Kruger ever gives it up. "I love Sonia Kruger," she said. "I like all the hair and makeup. I'm a terrible dance, but I'm not a soldier either and that didn't stop me doing SAS." To read more stories, download the Illawarra Mercury news app in the Apple Store or Google Play.