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LeagueUnlimited.com passes on its condolences to the friends, family and teammates past and present of PNG international Kato Ottio, who passed away early this morning, Tuesday 9 January 2018.
James Rule, CEO of Widnes Vikings, says: "We are devastated to learn that Kato Ottio has passed away this afternoon. Kato was an incredibly talented player, with a bright future ahead of him in Rugby League.
This news is all the more tragic, because Kato was due to travel to the UK this week to fulfil his dream of playing first-grade Rugby League. We had been in regular contact with Kato and were excited to welcome a bright, excited and passionate young man, who had genuine potential for the future.
Having only learned this morning that Kato had developed a sudden health issue whilst training yesterday, we are in absolute shock to now receive this tragic news. We will be liaising closely with his loved ones to offer them our condolences and support at this difficult time. Widnes Vikings will of course be looking to celebrate Kato's life and pay our sincere respects to someone who we believe would have become a hero at our Club.
Whilst we are coming to terms with this news, and still learning the full facts of this situation, we are unable to comment further at this time."
Denis Betts, Head Coach of Widnes Vikings, says: "To receive this tragic news is heart-breaking. 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."
Coach Ricky Stuart was deeply saddened to hear of Kato's passing this morning.
"Receiving the devastating news this morning knocked me for six. It was hard to believe given the age of Kato and how I remembered him here, I am really lost for words.
Kato was an important part of our club and very close mate to all our boys and staff.
He was a very respectful young man who appreciated everything we were doing for him here in adjusting to life in Canberra and learning his trade in becoming a professional football player.
He was very close to his family and my heart and prayers go out to them. I just could not imagine what they are going through at this moment"
The club is still coming to terms of the situation and won't make any further comment.