Former Canberra Raiders winger and budding NRL star Kato Ottio has died at the age of 23, his Super League club have confirmed.
Widnes Vikings CEO James Rule said that the Papua New Guinea international had passed away after developing a sudden health issue during training
"We are devastated to learn that Kato Ottio has passed away this afternoon," Rule said in a statement. "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.
"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."
Rule continued: "Having only learned this morning that Kato had developed a sudden health issue whilst training yesterday, we are in absolute shock to now receive this tragic news.
"We will be liasing 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."
Tributes have begun pouring in from the NRL community following the news, with former teammate Blake Austin saying he was "shattered".
"Wasn't a day he wasn't smiling, gone way too soon," Austin wrote. "Prayers with all his family."
Widnes coach Denis Betts also spoke on the tragic news, extending his condolences to Kato's family and paying tribute to the player's "incredible gifts".
"[He had] the potential to forge a great career in rugby league," he said. "Moreover, in all our interactions with him, we found Kato to be a person of great character who was excited to be following his dreams."
Kato spent two years with the Raiders before leaving at the end of the 2017 season to join English Super League side Widnes Vikings.