Widnes Vikings centre back Kato Ottio dies while training

Rugby young gun Kato Ottio was keeping fit with teammates from the Papua New Guinea Hunters when he collapsed from heatstroke- later dying at Port Moresby hospital

Antonelli confirmed Austin was among a number of senior Canberra players organising a tribute in the capital to Ottio on the same day as his funeral in PNG.

He died at the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby in the early hours of Tuesday morning local time after collapsing due to a "sudden health issue" during an 8k road run with his former Hunters team-mates.

The Papua New Guinea worldwide was due to travel to the United Kingdom this week to fulfil his dream of playing first grade rugby with the Widnes Vikings.

Though 2017 was more a disappointing season for Ottio with a severe injury sidelining him for much of the campaign, he still did enough to earn a place in the PNG squad for the 2017 World Cup.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said: "Receiving the devastating news this morning knocked me for six".

"We are devastated to learn that Kato Ottio has passed away this afternoon".

Ottio's mother Joyce said her beloved son died after suffering a severe case of heatstroke
Ottio's mother Joyce said her beloved son died after suffering a severe case of heatstroke

Betts said: "It's a game to blow the cobwebs off some players who perhaps haven't played very much in the past four months".

Ottio had only taken up rugby league just over three years ago, before the Raiders spotted the former volleyball star playing in the Queensland Cup in 2015. "I just could not imagine what they are going through at this moment". 'I spoke to him on Saturday and he was excited about coming to play for us.

"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".

Whitehaven will face a Widnes club in mourning when they open their pre-season programme on Friday night.

"It was hard to believe given the age of Kato and how I remembered him here".

Ottio never played an NRL game, but led the try scoring during the 2016 NSW Cup for Mounties and scored a try in last year's World Cup.



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