Kato Ottio, a 23-year-old PNG international that seemingly had a very bright Rugby League career ahead of him, was reported to have died from a "sudden health issue" on January 8. It has since been confirmed by the Pacific International Hospital that Kato Ottio died from "complicated heat stroke" after collapsing during a training run the PNG Hunters. Here is a tribute to a player and a man taken too soon.

Born on 20 March 1994 in Tatana near Port Moresby - the capital of his native Papua New Guinea - Kato Ottio made a name for himself as a volleyball and Rugby Union player rather than on the Rugby League field in his early life.

As a member of PNG's volleyball squad at the 2013 Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna, Ottio won gold as PNG beat champions Wallis and Futuna. And, Ottio would later compete in the 2014 Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championship in the Philippines as part of the PNG team, Amoa NCD. It was after this experience that Ottio switched his attention to Rugby League.

Ottio made the move from Rugby Union, the code he had been playing along with volleyball, to Rugby League with the help of former Kumul Josiah Abavu, who persuaded him to play for Maopa Paio in the 2014 Southern Nines.

Operating mainly at center, Ottio then went on to play for Port Moresby RL side the Dobo Warriors and made the POMRFL squad for the Southern Zone trials in Sogeri.

His attitude and talent were enough to convince selectors to include him in the Southern Zone side to take part in the National Zone Championships in Lae in late 2014.

His impressive performances at the Zone Championships raised a certain number of eyebrows and Ottio was named in the National Zone All Stars to play the Digicel Cup All Stars in the curtain-raiser before the Prime Ministers’ XIII clash in October 2014 — he also ended up being used as a substitute by the PNG PM’s XIII against Australia PM's XIII.

The then head coach of the PNG national side, Mal Meninga, noticed Ottio and advised PNG Hunters' - aside in Australia's second RL tier, the Queensland Cup - boss Michael Marum to include him in his squad for the 2015 season.

Not only was Ottio's domestic pedigree increasing, but so was his international stature after making his debut for the national side in May 2015 against Fiji.

It was around November of that year that NRL side Canberra Raiders - after Ottio had caught the eye of Raiders' recruitment manager Peter Mulholland following Ottio's starring role in 19 of the Hunters' Queensland Cup games in 2015 - were said to be monitoring the towering three-quarter with the potential of giving him a professional contract just 12 months into his Rugby League career.

And, in what can only be described as a meteoric rise for the then 6 ft 3, 106kg man mountain, in February 2016, Ottio signed a two-year contract with Canberra after a successful train and trial deal. It was a dream come true for Ottio, whom at the tender age of 14, had to deal with the death of his father and, brought up solely by his mother, Ottio was now well on his way to forging a successful Rugby League career.

Although he spent the 2016 season with the Raiders' feeder team, the Mount Pritchard Mounties, in the New South Wales Cup, Ottio's class shone through. The three-quarter was nothing short of sensational for the Mounties, scoring 29 tries in 23 games - a statistic which made him the competition's leading try-scorer - and was even named on the wing in the 2016 NSW Cup Team of the Year.

Though 2017 was more a disappointing season for Ottio with a severe injury sidelining him for much of the campaign, he still did enough to earn a place in the PNG squad for the 2017 World Cup. Playing in all of PNG's World Cup games, Ottio - as well as several of his teammates such as Garry Lo and Wellington Albert - raised his profile greatly with a string of powerful performances.

Although on his return from the World Cup the Raiders were rumored to be considering an extension to Ottio's now-ended contract, it was announced on December 1 that the PNG star had been snapped up by Super League side, Widnes Vikings following his impressive World Cup performances. With an ability to dazzle the opposition with neat footwork and blistering strength, Ottio would have very probably become a cult hero among the Widnes faithful. And, at just 23 years of age, he was only going to get better - a scary thought for a player that was already exciting and enthralling crowds in PNG and Australia.

It is thus with great sadness that Ottio never got to pursue his Super League ambitions and that Super League was never able to witness a player that had the devastating ability to light up the field like few before him.

The mass of condolences that have come pouring in from Rugby League supporters far and wide is unsurprising and it just goes to show how tightly-knit the Rugby League community is. At 23 years of age, Ottio had his whole life ahead of him; it is therefore even more harrowing that these words must be used, but, Rest in Peace Kato Ottio.