The rugby league world was saddened earlier this week when news broke of the tragic death of Kato Ottio, being lovers of PNG rugby league, we were also sad when we heard the news.
Kato Ottio suffered Heat Stroke whilst training in PNG, and after being admitted to hospital, he never recovered and passed away yesterday.
Proving how short and/or cruel life can be, Kato Ottio was training with former PNG Hunters in PNG to keep ultra fit for the upcoming season, and he was only days away from moving to England to hook up with the Widnes Vikings for the upcoming UK Super League season. A season where he could have really put his name on the rugby league map. A year which looked like being a big year for PNG players in England with David Mead and Gary Lo also signing for Super League sides. Unfortunately for one of those great PNG Rugby League will will never know.
Ottio was part of the great 2015 PNG Hunters side which entertained us and plenty others despite falling short of the Grand Final and Premiership win that eventually came in 2017. That 2015 PNG Hunters was at its peak of entertaining rugby league before a more structured style of play led them tto success, and Kato Ottio was a part of those good times.
The 194cm centre was signed by the Canberra Raiders for 2016, and despite not getting a run with the NRL side, he impressed for the feeder side Mounties, earning a spot in the NSW Cup Team of the Year. It looked like Kato Ottio would be another player that headed to an NRL side without getting a chance at the top grade.
Injury stopped some momentum in 2017, but Kato Ottio made the PNG Kumuls World Cup team, where he was amongst they many tryscorers in their big wins at home, and with the upcoming link up with Widnes things looked super bright.
A shame that after passing away just 23 we will never know.
So a Gurgler salute and farewell for a PNG rugby league star for Kato Ottio.