Rugby league star dies, aged 23

Violet Powell
January 10, 2018

Further details are due to be released at a later date.

PNG Rugby Football League chairman Sandis Tsaka confirmed that Ottio passed away at the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby at 2am Tuesday.

"This news is all the more tragic, because Kato was due to travel to the United Kingdom this week to fulfil his dream of playing first-grade rugby league".

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart says Kato Ottio's death "knocked me for six".

"I am really lost for words".

It was around November of that year that NRL side Canberra Raiders - after Ottio had caught the eye of Raiders' recruitment manager Peter Mulholland following Ottio's starring role in 19 of the Hunters' Queensland Cup games in 2015 - were said to be monitoring the towering three-quarter with the potential of giving him a professional contract just 12 months into his Rugby League career.

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He recovered in time to play in the Rugby League World Cup, where he was outstanding for the Kumuls. The three-quarter was nothing short of sensational for the Mounties, scoring 29 tries in 23 games - a statistic which made him the competition's leading try-scorer - and was even named on the wing in the 2016 NSW Cup Team of the Year.

Denis Betts, Widnes Vikings head coach, said that the news "is heart-breaking".

"Kato was always happy and bouncing around, I was talking to Blake Austin this morning and he said the world is so unfair and that only the good ones go early, it's so true".

'On behalf of the coaching team, staff and players at Widnes Vikings, I would like to offer our honest condolences to Kato's loved ones, ' he finished.

He signed with the English Super League club after playing for his country at the World Cup. "Moreover, in all our interactions with him, we found Kato to be a person of great character who was excited to be following his dreams".

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