Papua New Guinea Rugby League Star Kato Ottio dies
|Late Kato Ottio|
He was expected to travel to England next week to get ready for the start of the new Super League season in February.
The Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) said Ottio passed away at Port Moresby's Pacific International Hospital at 2am this morning (local time).
PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka said details of the death would be released later.
He said Ottio's body was taken to his home and would be transferred to a funeral home this morning.
The centre was part of the PNG side that lost to England in November's World Cup quarter-finals.
He was the NSWRL's leading tryscorer in 2016 while playing for Raiders feeder club the Mounties.
James Rule, chief executive officer of Widnes Vikings, said Ottio 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," he told the team's official website.
"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.
"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."