Billboard labels Sydney Roosters as "world champions" - three weeks BEFORE WCC clash with Wigan Warriors
Wigan have been delivered an astonishing slap in the face ahead of the World Club Challenge - with the Sydney Roosters already declared 'world champions' on billboards!
A report in Australia says the giant posters have appeared in Atlanta, Georgia - home of next weekend's NFL Superbowl.
It is thought the three billboards have been hired to raise awareness of the NRL in America.
But the claim that the premiers Sydney Roosters are the 'world champions' - before they have faced Super League winners Wigan in the February 17 WCC - will raise some eyebrows.
Australian journalist The Mole reported that NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg sent a memo to staff to explain the billboards.
"Americans always claim their domestic league winners, whether it’s NBA, MLB or NFL are the World Champions," Greenberg was quoted as writing in the Nine.com.au report.
"So, if they can make this claim, why can’t we?
"Although the billboard posters only went up today they have already turned heads and we expect some positive media coverage this week.
"It’s a cheeky, fun way of kicking off our promotions for 2019."
Wigan returned serve, tweeting a picture - mocked up from the Oscar-winning movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, thanking the NRL and stating: "That's the team talk, sorted."
They also issued an official statement, which read: "Wigan Warriors are aware of the NRL ‘world champion’ billboard advertising campaign in Atlanta, USA, ahead of the Super Bowl LIII. "No-one at the Warriors will be making any premature predictions of who will be crowned World Club Challenge champions on Sunday 17th of February at the DW Stadium and as four-time World Club Challenge winners, Wigan Warriors look forward to welcoming the Sydney Roosters to the UK in a few weeks’ time."
Melbourne are the current rugby league world champions, having beaten Leeds in last year's WCC - a point not lost on UK broadcaster Rod Studd.
"NRL CEO Todd Greenberg appears blissfully unaware that the World Club Challenge exists and was won by Melbourne," tweeted Studd.