first_imgAfter Papua New Guinea’s 24-10 loss to Fiji last year when Meninga was at the helm, the Canberra Raiders legend told Ottio he had the raw ability to make the top level.The 22-year-old signed with the Raiders for two years in February and is the leading try-scorer in NSW Cup playing wing for Canberra affiliate Mounties.He will represent his country for the second time against Fiji at Parramatta on Saturday, and expects to line up against fellow Raider Sisa Waqa in the centres.The former volleyball international has used the encouraging words from Meninga, one of the greatest centres of all time, as a spur to realise him dreams.”Big Mal talked to me after that game about my football and what I can work on, he gave me some good tips,” Ottio said.”He told me to just keep working hard, play good footy and one day I can make it to NRL.”Someone like that to talk to me about how I can do things better, it’s something that motivates you to work hard and that you can become someone.”I’m just patient and hoping for an opportunity.”Fellow Raider Kurt Baptiste will make his Kumuls debut on Saturday. His Papua New Guinean heritage comes from his father, Bevan, who was born on the island of Samarai and moved to Brisbane aged 14.Baptiste has already enjoyed a taste of the country’s mad passion for rugby league, having played for Canberra’s former Queensland Cup affiliate Souths Logan against PNG Hunters in Port Moresby.”It was definitely an eye-opener for me,” Baptiste said.”It was good to see how the Papua New Guineans live and how mad for footy they are up there.”I remember coming into the hotel and there was all these kids on the side of the road chasing the bus.”They knew the footy team was here and were excited to see the players in the country.”It’s always something in the back of my mind I’ve wanted to do and I’m excited I get a chance to this weekend.”They’re just a mad footy nation, it’s their No.1 sport up there and the huge amount of support you get on social media is amazing.”If the official team list is to be believed, Baptiste will emulate his role at the Raiders as bench hooker for Papua New Guinea.He believes the Pacific Tests should remain on the calendar, despite some clubs being hesitant to release their players.”I definitely think they should stay on the agenda, there’s a lot of people out there supporting these nations and they want to see the best players,” he said.last_img

How ‘Big Mal’ gave Canberra Raiders PNG star Kato Ottio belief

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *