Former Canberra Raider Kato Ottio turned down St George Illawarra NRL contract for World Cup

Former Canberra Raiders flyer Kato Ottio knew this could be his only chance to represent his people in a World Cup in front of his people.

That's why he turned down an NRL contract with St George Illawarra and was instead heading to England to play for Widnes in the Super League.

Ottio's brother Ahulo jnr made the revelations while delivering his eulogy in front of thousands of people at Ottio's funeral in Port Moresby on Friday.

The 23-year-old had died of what's believed to be heatstroke on Tuesday, after training with the PNG Hunters.

His former Raiders teammates held a memorial service for him in Canberra on Thursday.

The Dragons offered Ottio a contract, but on the proviso he skip last year's World Cup and instead have surgery on the knee that underwent a reconstruction in 2016.

But Ottio was having none of it. He wanted the rare chance to represent Papua New Guinea in Papua New Guinea in a World Cup.

"I lost count of how many times I practically begged him to take up the Saints' offer and forget the World Cup," an emotional Ahulo jnr said.

"I was like 'My goodness, you are young enough to play three World Cups even before thinking of retiring. Are you on drugs?'

"I even lobbied with mum to talk him out of it when he came for a break and to take up the Saints' offer. All that was in vain.

"His response was with a smile and a giggle, oh that annoying giggle when you're being serious. He said 'Yes bro, that's true but I want to play in front of my people. We don't know when the World Cup will come back to PNG and this was my only chance.'

"Seeing him out there with that band of brothers that were able to pull PNG together as one for a short four weeks was something nobody could put a dollar amount to. I'm proud and happy that after all he did what he did and played for his country in the World Cup."

This story Former Canberra Raider Kato Ottio turned down St George Illawarra NRL contract for World Cup first appeared on Brisbane Times.