Cairns rugby league news: Zangrande returns to Ivanhoes, Benionis clashes

Jono Zangrande opens on his return to Ivanhoes as a talented family of athletes enjoys a busy weekend. ONCE. REPEAT >>

JONO Zangrande is back at Ivanhoes after a difficult family decision to leave Northern Pride after a season at Hostplus Cup Club.

Zangrande left his post as Ivanhoes coach in late 2021 to take on an assistant coach role at Pride as he relied on making the now-or-never call to further his coaching career.

The commitment of time and being away from family proved a fair handicap and after a season in which he feels he has learned a great deal as a coach, he returns to Smithfield in a role in football operations.

And it has proven to be right so far, as the club is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

“I had to make a slightly tricky decision, but the right one, just in terms of my family, you know, to move forward,” Zangrande said.

“Having two young children, I just wanted to spend a lot more time with them during the weekdays and weekends.

“I really appreciated my time at Pride.

“I learned a lot about the game by watching them play week after week.

“I really started hopping on my back, which I felt had to be looked at with Ivanhoes for such an important year in the future. And then I was kind of suggested that I should have a role in the football business there, which I think kind of suits me.

“I think my skill set was just being able to help the club where I can and also helping any players and coaches who need or want advice or just want to chat about football stuff.”

It’s shaping up to be a big year for the Ivanhoes who were one of the top teams in the FNQ rugby league competition in 2022 and won Jack Seary’s club championship in 2021.

The A-Tier squad is quite similar to the squad that only picked up a few Premier League wins last year, a number of key players spent the off-season with the Pride to gain valuable experience and the new additions from Origin and NRL Star Josh Dugan has high hopes for an impressive performance in 2023.

Lindsay Styles remains coach for his second year in charge of the A-Class squad, but he will be much closer to Zangrande, under whom he has served as an assistant for the past several years, to whom he will turn for advice or a can turn other ears.

“That was one of the keys because I’ve been looking into recruitment in a way and I’ve had some good conversations with the coaching staff about it and one of the really positive aspects was that the general consensus of the conversation was ‘guys, we’. We have a phenomenal squad here, maybe we just need to add a few extra pieces,” he said.

“And you know Rhylee Herd, he’s played his cards pretty well in terms of … I’ve been watching him practice and his moves on defense and his time with the plank kind of shows the effect he’s having with the north over these months.” Pride had and probably under Sammy Obst (Pride assistant coach) and Ty (Williams, Pride coach).

“There are quite a few hands on deck, which is positive, and people are doing some really good things behind the scenes, which I definitely appreciate.

“And you notice that boxes are ticked in the field that are really needed. The 100th year brings a whole lot of excitement and it should, it’s quite an achievement to behold.

“And from all the reports and from what I’ve seen with the training sessions and the quality and the caliber of the players that we’ve had out there. I think the guys will be pretty good this year. I think it will be quite a challenge to beat them.”

The FNQRL season begins on March 25th and 26th.


BROTHERS Premiership legend Bobby Benioni may be a little behind his playing days but he is as busy as ever following his boys.

His two youngest sons faced each other for the first time in last weekend’s Cyril Connell Challenge, with Taakoi’s Blackhawks narrowly beating Harmon’s Pride 20-14 after a last try against Townsville.

“It was great to see them play,” said Bobby, a player who won five CDRL Premierships for the Brothers and coached numerous teams.

“I think Harmon had the better game, he knew he had to lift against his older brother and ended up scoring two tries.”

Taakoi, 16, was playing for the Blackhawks when he moved to Townsville to join Kirwan State High School’s elite student system.

Harmon, 15, plays his school football at Trinity Bay SHS in Cairns, as does Davidson, 17, who scored for the Pride’s Mal Meninga Cup side.

Bobby’s eldest son, Ma’taeo, has retired from senior rugby league.


CAIRNS player Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will go down in history as the Dolphins’ first tryscorer.

The NRL freshmen shocked the competition on Sunday when they defeated the Roosters 28-18 at Suncorp Stadium.

Tabuai-Fidow, who joined the Dolphins from North Queensland, was solid in his first full game since his injury at the World Cup.


It was difficult not to be a little disappointed in Sam Obst’s luck.

The Northern Pride Premiership winner and member of their Team of the Decade was set to take the reins of the beloved Hostplus Cup club for the first time a week ago in a trial against Brothers.

It would have been Obst’s first real test as a head coach and could have played a role in deciding whether he would want to take on that role.

But heavy rain left Stan Williams Park unplayable, washing out the preseason hitout.

He will play a slightly different role for the Pride this season, from man delivering messages to his players to sitting on the sidelines and in direct communication with head coach Ty Williams.

Originally released as REPEAT SET: Zangrande returns to Ivanhoes, Benionis takes on each other Cairns rugby league news: Zangrande returns to Ivanhoes, Benionis clashes

Ryan Sederquist

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