Widnes Vikings co-captain Joe Mellor says the club handled the passing of Kato Ottio in a well-respected and touching fashion.
The Rugby League world was stunned in January as the news broke that Papua New Guinea star and soon to be Viking Kato Ottio had tragically passed away after suffering severe heat stroke.
And Mellor has paid tribute to the Widnes club for the way they handled the situation.
He told loverugbyleague.com: “It was a strange feeling because I remember just sitting at home and getting the message and it was a shock.
“We didn’t know him but we were excited to see what he was going to bring and its sad. It opens your eyes up to the fact that there is more to life than Rugby League.
“It was really sad and the club acted respectfully on it straight away and they are still doing nice touches now and we’ve got ‘Kato 18’ on our shirts now so it’s nice from the club.
“He was only 23 and was coming over here to fulfil his dream to play first team rugby league. We play it every week so we can’t take anything for granted and I think that’s the main message that everyone has took out of it.”
Ottio’s fellow Papua New Guineans, Wellington Albert and Stanton Albert, joined Widnes in the off-season.
And Mellor is looking forward to what the brothers can bring to the table this year.
He said: “They’ll be good and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do for us.
“In his first training session, Wellington didn’t have a bob hat so he took his bib off and put it on his head because he got brain freeze! I think they are kind of getting used to the weather now.
“They did well for PNG in the World Cup and it will be good for them and it will be good for the other forwards as well because they know that they are going to have to perform at their best to play so they should be good for us.”