By JACK AMI
PAPUA New Guinea Kumul and Canberra Raiders recruit Kato Ottio returned home yesterday for a break as he recovers from a season-ending knee injury.
The 22-year-old injured the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee playing for the Raiders’ feeder club Mounties in the NSW Instrust Cup’s penultimate round before the finals.
The 191cm tall winger limped out of Jackson’s Airport international terminal on crutches but with a big smile on his face no doubt happy to be back in the country after spending most of 2016 in Canberra.
“I’m just happy to be back home and to see my family again and stay with them for a few weeks before I go back to Canberra,” Ottio said.
Ottio is expected to be out for six to eight months after undergoing a knee reconstruction in Canberra and will spend three weeks in Port Moresby before returning to the Australian capital to continue his rehabilitation.
The lanky Bougainville and Central man said he was happy to back home but was aware of the need to focus on his recovery as he tries to crack Canberra coach Rickey Stuart’s first grade side.
“I have another year on my contract with Canberra Raiders but I’m hoping to be ready to play in the NSW Cup by June and go from there,” Ottio said. The former Hunters back-rower, who transitioned to the backs on his move south, said making the Kumuls World Cup squad was another priority and something he had in the back of his mind.
“I’m hoping to get picked for the Kumuls World Cup squad next October but I’ll have to get past this injury first and get into some form,” Ottio, who was the NSW Cup’s leading try-scorer in 2016 with 28 tries before his injury, said. “I had a good season for the Mounties but unfortunately couldn’t finish the season and help the guys out in the finals.”
The Mounties were beaten 21-20 by the Illawarra Cutters in the NSW Cup grand final.
“I was scoring tries in just about every game for the Mounties,” said the former PNG volleyball representative.
Ottio said his goal when he accepted the offer from the Raiders was to make the NRL and the injury was a setback but he was staying positive. “I have to be patient and wait for my chance I’ve got one more season to do it.
“That chance will come and when it does I have to take it. I know Jordan (Rapana) and Edrick (Lee) have been good for the Raiders so I just have to stay fit, play for the Mounties and wait.”
“To be honest, I struggled in the beginning but kept working hard to achieve what I was contracted for and I’m just thankful to God for getting through the first season.”
By JACK AMI