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WIDNES Vikings and Papua New Guinea centre Kato Ottio died of heatstroke after a training run, the hospital that treated him has revealed.
Ottio, 23, was due to travel from Papua New Guinea today to join Widnes in the Super League.
He died in the early hours of Tuesday morning in the capital Port Moresby.
Ottio had earlier collapsed following a five-mile training run with his former Papua New Guinea Hunters teammates.
Ottio’s manager Steve Deacon told reporters that “the run was over and a few of the boys walked back while others got a ride.
“But Kato told a few of the players: ‘Let’s run back’ — he wanted to use the professionalism he gained from his time at Canberra to rub off on his younger countrymen.
“He got slower and eventually collapsed. He was unconscious and in a coma and they were not able to revive him.
“He was a great guy and I'm just devastated,” said Deacon.
Pacific International Hospital (PIH) acting medical director Dr Paul Alexander said that “Kato was brought into PIH in a critically ill condition which appeared to be complications of a possible severe heatstroke.
“Unfortunately, despite all treatment measures, [Ottio’s] medical condition deteriorated and he finally succumbed during the early hours” of Tuesday.
Ottio was an ever-present at the recent World Cup as Papua New Guinea won their group before losing to England in the quarter-finals.
He was set to travel to Widnes and share a house with international teammate Wellington Albert, who was expected to delay his departure to England.
A crowdfunding page set up by the Vikings to raise money for Ottio's family surpassed its £5,000 target within 24 hours, while the club have made their own private donation.
The club have organised a bucket collection for Friday’s pre-season friendly against Whitehaven, before which there will be a minute’s silence to remember him.
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