Papua New Guinea international Kato Ottio has passed away suddenly, aged 23.
A prolific try-scorer in the New South Wales Cup, Ottio had signed with Super League club the Widnes Vikings for 2018, following a two-year stint with the Canberra Raiders.
In a statement, Widnes confirmed Ottio had developed a sudden health issue while training yesterday. He had been due to travel to the UK this week.
Several high-profile players have paid tribute to Ottio on social media this morning.
Absolutely devastated to hear the passing of my Kumul brother Kato Ottio. He was one of most humble and kind hearted people I have ever known. Lau kudougu ai bonoho hanaimu. Forever in my heart. Love you brother Rest In Peace. I will miss you Katzy Mero ❤️ pic.twitter.com/lWSOoPGiMM
— David Mead (@davidmead411) 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