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Ipswich Jets: Cup gains and losses for 2023

Khalil Rahme was born into rugby league.

The son of a strength and conditioning coach, Rahme grew up surrounded by the stars of the game.

Adam Reynolds sat at his dinner table, Kirisome Auva’a joined him on the PlayStation, Alex Johnston played footy with him in the backyard.

For the Lebanon international, it was exciting to be in this environment as a kid – especially given these players would go on to win the 2014 NRL grand final together at South Sydney Rabbitohs.

His dad, John Rahme – who also worked with Western Suburbs Magpies, Wests Tigers and St George Illawarra Dragons across his career - was not only a strength and conditioning coach, but a mentor to the younger players at the Rabbitohs.

And for Rahme, his dad is the reason he plays rugby league today.

Khalil Rahme - wearing No.16 - with teammates in an Ipswich v Sunshine Coast trial. Photo: Rikki-Lee Arnold/QRL
Khalil Rahme - wearing No.16 - with teammates in an Ipswich v Sunshine Coast trial. Photo: Rikki-Lee Arnold/QRL

“My dad was introduced to (former South Sydney coach) Michael Maguire around 2012 and they became friends,” Rahme said.

“He started helping South Sydney with those juniors that were coming into first grade… he nurtured them. There was Adam Reynolds, Alex Johnston, Dylan Walker, Kirisome… that was our main group.

“We used to have big family dinners with all of them and my brothers, my parents, my grandparents. We used to have dinner, play PlayStation, some footy. My dad would take them out back and have a conversation with them and see how they were going. It was more of a transitional type thing from 20s to first grade.

“The older I’ve become, the more grateful I’ve become of those times. When I was a kid, it was the best.

“Because of my dad, I was pretty much born in the sheds. I could kick and catch a ball before I could walk.

“When I was in my late teens, I understood and appreciated what I had, but I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I thought.

“But now I really, really appreciate it. I speak to my dad every day. He watches my games on Hudl and he’ll write down notes and we’ll discuss those notes.

“It’s our own video session before I get to training. He’s a really big part and influence when it comes to rugby league. He’s definitely the reason why I’m playing and the reason why I’m pushing. Mum’s (Sonia Mammino) the same.”

And it was through some of these childhood experiences that led Rahme to the Ipswich Jets in 2023.

The 22-year-old has come through the systems at Melbourne Storm under 20s, Canberra Raiders under 20s and played last season with the Mounties in NSW Cup.

But as the season came to an end in 2022, he found himself without a club for this year. Then he saw Auva’a playing for the Ipswich Jets and reached out in the hope this long-lasting connection might help him land a spot in the Hostplus Cup.

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“I’d spoken to Kirisome Auva'a about coming up to the Jets,” Rahme said.

“I was looking for an opportunity. He passed my number to (Ipswich coach Ben Cross) and we spoke over the phone several times over the course of a week.

“It was pretty much a couple weeks later I found out I was going to the World Cup (with Lebanon). I signed a week or two before I went over. That was the opportunity I got. It was the best thing.

“I thought I’d try my luck and see what I could do in Cup in Queensland, see if they needed any middles, and luckily they did. I wanted to try a different level of competition and push myself outside my comfort zone.”

Due to the World Cup, Rahme didn’t start training with the Jets until 10 days before their Christmas break.

But he immediately felt at home at his new club, with the forward among a number of new signings, including a large contingent of Kaiviti Silktails players, former NRL hooker Manaia Cherrington and Englishman, Isaac Nokes.

Ipswich recruit Isaac Nokes on his arrival in Australia

He has also quickly embraced his new coach in Cross, who was also a prop throughout his rugby league career across the NRL and Super League.

“Cup seems to be a faster, more free style of football, especially at a club like the Jets, where they’re known for a different style of footy,” Rahme said.

“There’s a bit of structure but the coach gives you a lot of freedom as a whole team. You can see that in training. We’ve practised a lot of things I haven’t seen before or thought of different ways of playing.

“Ben Cross is a very smart coach. I want to use this time as a stepping stone for my career. It’s going to help having the mind of Crossy there, who has played at the highest level.

“He’s always said to us that he wasn’t the most talented player but he made sure he worked the hardest and forced his way into squads by working the hardest. He wants the best for everyone and he does that by pushing all those efforts and making sure we’re giving everything to the club.

“You can see the player he was, that’s the coach he is now. He puts a lot of effort into everything he does and that’s being reflected onto the players.”

For Rahme, the goals for 2023 are simple. He wants to be effective and competitive, make the most of every minute on the field and play “beyond Cup level” as he chases his NRL dreams.

Ipswich Jets 2023 gains and losses


Manaia Cherrington (Pine Rivers), Mitch Farlow (Norths Devils), Temeisia Ratu Jilivecevece (Kaiviti Silktails), Manasa Kalou (Kaiviti Silktails), Malakai Kovekalou (Kaiviti Silktails), Justice Leota (St Marys Sydney), Dray Ngatuere-Wroe (Brisbane Tigers), Isaac Nokes (Newcastle Thunder), Matthew Parsons (Queanbeyan Seniors), Mosese "Moji" Qionimacawa (Kaiviti Silktails), Khalil Rahme (Mounties NSWRL), Jacob Reedy-Bartlett (Bulimba Bulldogs), Apakuki Tavodi (Kaiviti Silktails), Kegan Tuhega (Pine Rivers), Jerome Veve (Western Clydesdales), Gordon Whippy (Penrith Panthers), Bradley Zampech (Souths Logan Magpies Hastings Deering Colts)


Onosai Auina (released), Dom Ayoub (released), Ngangarra Barker (Newcastle Knights), Hnaloan Budden (Western Clydesdales), Zac Butler (released), Tyler Coburn (Souths Logan Magpies), Corey Kurnoth (released), Blake Lenehan (Western Clydesdales), Nico Mataia (released), Owen McCarron (released), Rhys Melville (released), Nathaniel Neale (retired), Hugh Sedger (Western Clydesdales), Ono So'Oialo (released), John Swalger (released), Todd White (Western Clydesdales)

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