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Widnes Vikings centre Kato Ottio has died after a 'sudden health issue' at training at the age of 23.
The new signing was getting ready for the start of the Super League season next month when he quickly became ill - however, no other details on the circumstances of his death have been released.
Chief Executive of the Vikings, James Rule has issued a statement, saying: "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."
Mr Rule also described Kato as a 'bright, excited and passionate young man'.
He added: "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."
The star previously played for Australian rugby league side Canberra Raiders and also for Papua New Guinea in last year's Rugby League World Cup.
Vikings Head Coach, Denis Betts says: "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."
Featured Image Credit: NAPARAZZI/Creative Commons
Topics: Rugby League
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