Kumuls to honour Kato Ottio in Pacific Test
The life of former player Kato Ottio is set to be honoured further in the Pacific Test match on Saturday afternoon between Papua New Guinea and Fiji with the Kumuls to wear black armbands for their teammate.
Ottio died from severe heat stroke in January after a training session in Port Moresby, with his death shocking both his home nation and the wider rugby league community.
The Pacific Test marks the Kumuls' first time back in camp without the 23-year-old among them.
"We spoke about that the first day we come in," Kumuls representative Rhyse Martin told NRL.com.
"This game we're doing it for him. It is good that we can all come together again and share his memory and what he's done for the Kumuls.
"We're definitely going to pay our respects to him and hopefully put in a good performance and do our country proud."
Kumuls teammate Justin Olam described being around the close-knit group again as bittersweet without Ottio.
Olam moved to Melbourne earlier in the year to begin a career at the Storm and has reunited with his PNG teammates since the World Cup.
"It's sad for us, he was a big part of this team not only as a player but a brother," Olam said.
"We all have very good memories and attributes from him that we keep in our hearts. This season I'm playing for him. Every weekend, when I play, I always have his my name on my wrist.
"He is gone but he's never forgotten."
Meanwhile, Martin hosed down rumours he was left out of the Bulldogs line-up a fortnight ago due to disciplinary reasons.
The 25-year-old was a late withdrawal by Canterbury coach Dean Pay against the Dragons and was relegated to reserve grade despite a solid start to his NRL career.
"That's not true, Deano just wanted to go with a few bigger boys on the bench," Martin said.
"He stuck with that last week's game [v Titans] as well."
The Bulldogs couldn't have gone any worse without him after a sub-par performance on home turf against the Gold Coast 32-10, losing by six tries to two .
Martin's recall could come with the departure of Moses Mbye, who was the side's primary goal kicker.
A sharp-shooter himself, the Bulldogs forward was hopeful of a return to first grade. Bench utility Kerrod Holland is also an option for Dean Pay because of his kicking ability.
"We've been in games all year but last week's game at Belmore we fell apart," Martin said.
"At training we were off and it wasn't the way we wanted to send Moses out. We aren't giving up on the season and are focused on trying to win some games but it's just not working at the moment.
"I just want to get back into the team and play in the NRL again."