It was standing room only at the Sir John Guise Indoor Stadium in Port Moresby as thousands of family members, teammates, PNG government ministers, members of the country's rugby league community and fans gathered to farewell the late Kato Ottio.
Up to 70,000 more viewers from dozens of countries watched a live stream of the service, which began with the heartbreaking sight of the casket being carried into the venue by Ottio’s Kumuls and Hunters teammates.
Kato’s brother Ahulo Ottio Jnr, was moved to tears as he revealed that the 23‑year‑old had turned down a contract from St George Illawarra Dragons on the eve of the World Cup because it came with the condition he withdrew from the Kumuls squad to undergo surgery before the 2018 NRL season.
Despite protestations from his family to take the contract and fulfil his NRL dream, Ottio says he could not miss the opportunity to play in front of his people for the Kumuls, as he may never again get a chance to play in a World Cup on home soil.
Players are still struggling with Ottio death after training collapse.
Ottio had played with Sisa Waqa at the Canberra Raiders.
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