By MELTON PAIS
SP PNG Hunters and national coach Michael Marum said time could cloud the memory of the player Kato Ottio was but his rugby league legacy would be imprinted in his heart.
“I am not underestimating my players in the Kumuls and Hunters but to me, there is no player who could be a match for Kato in the centres,” Marum said.
Ottio, who joined the Hunters in 2015, moved to the Canberra Raiders in 2016, and was about to start a new journey with Widness Vikings in the English Super League in 2018 before dying of suspected heat stroke on Jan 9, 2018.
“I was trying to fit in boys in that centre position, especially in few of those representative games that PNG Kumuls participated without Kato last year,” Marum said during the commemoration of the first anniversary of Ottio’s passing yesterday at Tatana village.
“When I looked at the squad, I saw his name even though he was not with us
“We missed him a lot; I mean I miss him a lot.” Marum said he would make it part of the Hunters calendar to visit Ottio’s grave every year to pay their respects and remember the former club star who’s career was on an upward trajectory over a short span of time.
“It will be good to come every year,” Marum said.
The Kumuls mentor said as long as he was Hunters coach he would also take some of his players to Tatana to visit Ottio’s family including mother Joyce.
“We came here on the first anniversary, we will still come here in the second, third and forth and many more anniversaries to come,” he said.
“I think it would be good for our players to come and visit,” Marum added. “We will still come around defending on our programmes.”
Meanwhile, Marum said he would no longer allow PNG players contracted overseas to do preseason training with the Hunters.
This was the biggest lesson he learned after late Ottio’s death.
“The Hunters management have put in rules this year to stop players who have overseas contracts from training with the Hunters in the preseason. “A year ago, I allowed Kato to train with us only for a day and that incident happened and that in itself is a lesson for us but me especially,” Marum said.
By MELTON PAIS