NRL star Kato Ottio dead at 23

Funeral Service for late Kumul Ottio on Friday

NRL star Kato Ottio dead at 23

"We are devastated to learn that Kato Ottio has passed away this afternoon", Rule said in a statement.

Albert was due to fly to England with Ottio tomorrow but has put back his arrival as he tries to come to terms with the tragic news.

Although on his return from the World Cup the Raiders were rumored to be considering an extension to Ottio's now-ended contract, it was announced on December 1 that the PNG star had been snapped up by Super League side, Widnes Vikings following his impressive World Cup performances.

Ottio signed for Widnes at the end of previous year from Australian team Canberra Raiders.

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He had six caps for his country and had played against England in the recent World Cup.

'I am still in shock, ' Betts told NRL.com.

It is thus with great sadness that Ottio never got to pursue his Super League ambitions and that Super League was never able to witness a player that had the devastating ability to light up the field like few before him.

Ottio had only taken up rugby league just over three years ago, before the Raiders spotted the former volleyball star playing in the Queensland Cup in 2015.

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"Kato was always happy and bouncing around, I was talking to Blake Austin this morning and he said the world is so unfair and that only the good ones go early, it's so true". "I spoke to him on Saturday and he was excited about coming to play for us". "Prayers with all his family".

Whitehaven will face a Widnes club in mourning when they open their pre-season programme on Friday night.

"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. It was hard to believe given the age of Kato and how I remembered him here, I am really lost for words", Stuart said.

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