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Dublin: 7 °C Sunday 20 January, 2019

Rugby league player dies at 23 after 'sudden health issue'

English side Widnes Vikings are in mourning after Papua New Guinea centre Kato Ottio passed away.

Kato Ottio of Papua New Guinea pictured playing against the USA at the Rugby League World Cup last November.
Kato Ottio of Papua New Guinea pictured playing against the USA at the Rugby League World Cup last November.
Image: AAP/PA Images

PAPUA NEW GUINEA rugby league player Kato Ottio, who recently signed with English side Widnes Vikings, has died aged 23 from “a sudden health issue” while training, officials said Tuesday.

Ottio spent two seasons with the Canberra Raiders in Australia but after failing to break into their National Rugby League squad, which saw him sign with Widnes in December.

PNG Rugby Football League chairman Sandis Tsaka said Ottio died at a hospital in Port Moresby early on Tuesday.

“Details of (his) death will be released later,” he added on Facebook.

Ottio was expected to travel to England next week to get ready for the start of the new Super League season in February.

“We are devastated to learn that Kato Ottio has passed away. Kato was an incredibly talented player, with a bright future ahead of him in rugby league,” Widnes chief executive James Rule said on the club’s website.

“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.”

He added that Ottio developed “a sudden health issue whilst training yesterday”, but that Widnes were still not aware of the full facts.

Ottio played six times for the national side, the Kumuls, and featured in last year’s World Cup.

– © AFP 2018

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