23-year-old rugby league player Kato Ottio has died a week before 'fulfilling his dream'

Getty ImagesKato Ottio in action for Papua New Guinea in 2017.
  • A 23-year-old rugby league player has died because of a “sudden health issue.”
  • Kato Ottio was due to link up with new club Widnes Vikings.
  • He was just one week away from fulfiling his dream of playing sport at a high level.

Kato Ottio, a centre for rugby league club Widnes Vikings, has died at the age of 23.

Ottio’s death was because of a “sudden health issue” suffered during a practice session just one week before he was due to link up with his new club for pre-season training.

Widnes Vikings signed the player in December and expected the up-and-coming athlete to become a “hero” for them. The club said it is “heartbroken” and “devastated” over the news according to a statement released on the Vikings official website.

James Rule, CEO of Widnes Vikings, said: “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.”

Rule added that the “news is all the more tragic” as Kato was due to travel to the UK “this week to fulfil his dream” of playing rugby league at a high level. “We believe [Ottio] would have become a hero at [the Vikings].”

Denis Betts, Widnes Vikings head coach, said that the news “is heart-breaking.”

Ottio played a starring role for international side Papa New Guinea at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and Widnes Vikings was excited to bring the player to England.

“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.”

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