BY CURTIS WOODWARD
The rugby league community is in shock after news broke 23-year-old Papua New Guinean International Kato Ottio had passed away after suffering “a sudden health issue” ahead of joining English Super League club Widnes.
Ottio had most recently represented the Kumuls at the World Cup and had become a cult hero with Canberra fans as a try scoring machine for their lower grade outfit Mounties in the NSW Cup.
The winger was very unlucky to never make his NRL debut.
English great and Widnes coach Dennis Betts was shocked by the news.
“To receive this tragic news is heart-breaking,’’ he said.
Sad to learn of the sudden death of Papua New Guinea International and Widnes Vikings player Kato Ottio. Kato passed away after developing a sudden health issue while training yesterday. Terrible news.
— Gary Carter (@GaryCarter_1979) January 8, 2018
Devastating news about Kato Ottio, taken too young. Definitely hits home how precious life is. Thoughts are with all his family and friends, RIP.
— Tyrone McCarthy (@TykeMc) January 8, 2018
Absolutely gutted to hear that Kato Ottio passes away this morning. RIP big man. Was a pleasure knowing you. 💔😥
— Cameron Phelps (@phelpsy6) January 8, 2018
“All of us saw at the World Cup the incredible gifts that Kato had, and his potential to forge a great career in Rugby League. Moreover, in all of our interactions with him, we found Kato to be a person of great character, who was excited to be following his dreams.
“On behalf of the coaching team, staff and players at Widnes Vikings, I would like to offer our sincere condolences to Kato’s loved ones.”
Ottio was a regular on The81stMinute’s Intrust Super Premiership Steele Sports coverage in recent seasons and instantly became one of the commentary team’s favourite players with his blistering speed out wide for Mounties.
Tragic news in rugby league this morning. Reports emerging that PNG Kumul and new Widnes signing Kato Ottio has passed away age 23.
Our thoughts are with his family, friends and teammates past and present. Rest in peace.
— LeagueUnlimited (@LeagueUnlimited) January 8, 2018
Shocking and saddening news coming from @WidnesRL of the passing of young @PNGKumulsRL star Kato Ottio who was due to join their club this week. Our thoughts are with his family and friends and everyone at the Vikings. #RIPKato
— Leigh Centurions (@LeighCenturions) January 8, 2018