As revealed exclusively to Viking Stronghold Members this morning, Widnes Vikings have announced the signing of Papua New Guinea Rugby League World Cup star, Benkato ‘Kato’ Ottio from Canberra Raiders.

The Vikings secured the services today of the sought-after 6 foot 4, 105kg, outside back, who made a significant impression at the 2017 World Cup tournament.

He joins the Vikings with a reputation as one of the most promising prospects in the Australian leagues, having scored 29 tries in 23 games in his debut season for Canberra Raider’s Intrust Super Premiership NSW feeder team, the Mounties.

Ottio, 23, collected the Winger of the Year award in the NSW Cup, with the Canberra Times newspaper saying that he “stamped himself as a try-scoring freak, making 22 line-breaks and 99 tackle busts” in his breakout season. Canberra Raiders described Ottio as “possessing a lethal combination of size and speed, which caused plenty of problems for opposition defences all season long.”

Kato’s move is subject, as standard, to visa approval and the Vikings are looking to welcome him to pre-season training at the earliest opportunity.

The deal was supported by VIQI, Vikings Quids In, an independent supporter-led organisation that has assisted the Vikings to secure the likes of Chris Houston, Corey Thompson and Tom Olbison.

Denis Betts, Head Coach of Widnes Vikings, says: “Kato is a fantastic signing, who we are delighted to welcome to Widnes Vikings. He is a big outside back, with World Cup experience. I am excited by the quality that he will add to our edges. He is relishing his opportunity to play in the Super League, and is looking to make a big impression at Widnes Vikings.”

“Kato is a player whose qualities we have seen during the World Cup. I have also spoken to several people in the NRL and connected to Canberra Raiders during my time at the tournament, who rate him very highly. It is exciting for us to follow the recent signing of Krisnan Inu with another talented outside back, who will add competition and quality to the team.

“These deals have been made possible thanks to everyone who has strengthened the club by signing up for 2018 Viking Stronghold Membership, as well as the generous backing of VIQI. We are continuing to explore further transfer targets to improve the team. Everyone who invests in this Club, whether that’s by signing up for Membership or becoming a commercial partner, makes a real contribution to these efforts. I grateful to everyone who has supported us to build for 2018.”

Jason Shaw of VIQI says: “It has been a pleasure to work with the Club over recent seasons, supporting signings of key players. We were keen to support the club’s transfer aims for this season and help the Vikings progress in 2018.

VIQI have invested into this deal the money originally earmarked to support Rangi Chase’s proposed permanent move. We are excited by the prospect of Kato playing for the Vikings and look forwards to seeing him on the field. On behalf of VIQI Members, I’d like to wish him all the best for his future at Widnes Vikings.”

Jason commented further: “There are so many ways that we as supporters can support the continued growth of our Club, whether that be signing up for Stronghold Memberships, signing up for Dream Ticket or joining VIQI. These are all ways to make a real difference to the Club, as it looks to strengthen for the 2018 season.”