Ottio to be farewelled in PNG
THE Rugby League community will farewell Kato Ottio at a funeral in Papua New Guinea on Thursday following the rising back's shock passing.
Ottio's manager Steve Deacon confirmed the plans to honour the rising rugby league star, who collapsed after an 8km run while training with the PNG Hunters on Monday and later died in Port Moresby hospital.
The ceremony will be held on the outskirts of Port Moresby, while a burial is being planned at his village Tatana on Friday.
The Canberra Raiders will also hold a memorial service for their former player, teammate and friend on Thursday at 7.30am at the Holy Trinity Church in Curtin.
The service is public and open to members and fans who would like to pay their respect to Ottio.
Deacon praised the global league family for its support, confirming the RLPA and the Men of League Foundation had reached out to offer their assistance.
He also revealed Ottio's UK Super League side, Widnes, were going to sell T-shirts at Friday's first trial against Whitehaven to raise funds for the family.
"The support has been amazing," Deacon told The Daily Telegraph.
"My phone has been inundated with calls offering help and both the Raiders and Widnes have been very supportive. It has been an emotional time for anyone that knew Katio.
"He hadn't played for Widnes, but he was treated like a 10-year veteran.
"The support on social media has been unreal. I've been in constant contact with Widnes CEO James Rule and they've got a lot of things planned.
"In addition to the crowd funding, they are going to be doing some KO18 T-shirts to put on sale for the fans and all the proceeds will go back to the family."
Ottio, who starred for Papua New Guinea at last year's World Cup, has been remembered as a lovely and cheeky guy that was destined for big things in the NRL.
The 23-year-old former Canberra Raiders and Mounties flyer was training with his local PNG side to keep in shape before moving to the UK to play for Widnes.
Ottio's heartbroken mother Joyce said doctors said her son had suffered severe heatstroke.
Deacon has already started talks with the RLPA and other organisations to respectfully pay tribute to the much-loved PNG-born star throughout the year.
"Although he didn't play NRL or Super League, it's almost like he has already made that status and more," he said.
"He played for his country and he played for the Mounties, which was a massive thing for the players in PNG.
"Widnes was going to be his next step. There will be a lot of fundraising, memorabilia and game days and I'll work with everyone to make it happen."