KEY FIGURE: Former NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds player AJ Gilbert will be playing a crucial role for the SCU Marlins in the 2019 season.
KEY FIGURE: Former NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds player AJ Gilbert will be playing a crucial role for the SCU Marlins in the 2019 season. FILE

Marlins on the march in 2019

RUGBY UNION: After a ground-breaking first premiership in 2017, the Southern Cross University Marlins weren't able to get the ball rolling on a successful title defence last season.

It's the lessons learned from 2018 that are driving the club forward, according to coach Dwayne Vignes.

"This year is about building on the depth that we already have,” Vignes said.

"Last year we had a lot of injuries and there'll be more this year so we need to improve our depth and get more quality players so we can still compete when the injuries hit.”

In a major coup for the Marlins, AJ Gilbert will co-coach the side, with the former NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds player to also pull on a jersey.

"He's going to attract a lot of other players to the club for us,” Vignes said.

"We're not sure where he'll play yet, he can slot in anywhere so we'll just work out what's best for the team.

"He's been running the skills components at training. At this stage he's mainly focusing on seven-a-side skills but ones that can also be transferred to the 15-man game ... his experience is a huge plus for us.”

Along with Gilbert, Greg Wilson and Peter McCormack will be assistant coaches.

Vignes said the loss of the Grafton Redmen and Wauchope Thunder, leaving the first-grade competition with just five teams, would make every week a tough game.

"It's a shame we've lost two clubs but now it's better for the clubs remaining, it means the whole club can play their games at the same ground every week and travel together,” he said.

"We just want to keep improving every week, if we do that we should make the semi finals.”



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