TRINIDADIAN colossus Marvin Andrews excelled at the heart of Rangers' backline during last weekend's SPL curtain-raiser against former club Livingston and the defensive powerhouse intends to everything in his power to remain there for the rest of the campaign.

Granted, World Cup qualifying and Gold Cup commitments during the summer meant Big Marv missed the pre-season training trip to Canada then games against Linfield, Ipswich and Borussia Moenchengladbach - his appearance against St Mirren last Tuesday evening was his first since Alex McLeish's men clinched the SPL title in such dramatic circumstances at Easter Road on May 22.

However, the no-nonsense defender was back in the groove from the first whistle at Love Street and Buddies' hitman Mark Corcoran is still nursing bruises following a typically robust challenge from Marvin early on.

Andrews breezed through Sunday's victory over his former employers - alongside new recruit Jose-Karl Pierre-Fanfan - and maintains he feels fresh and 100 percent ready for the rigours of another punishing season, despite his recent T&T activity.

The fans' favourite, who seems to be improving every time he pulls on the Light Blue jersey, told Rangers World: "It is great to be playing for Rangers again after a busy summer. It is nice to be back in Glasgow and I am so excited about the new campaign.

"I played a lot of football in the summer but I really enjoyed it. We gave a good account of ourselves at the Gold Cup but I am so happy to be back at Murray Park and I am going to enjoy the new season.

"Winning the SPL title last year was a great triumph but I hope we can do even better this year.

"I'm feeling good, really strong and I am ready to play whenever the manager wants."My knee feels good and I have had no problems so I am in good shape for the new season.

"I was given a few extra days off from training so I am well rested."I am not really tired at all to be honest. I have prayed to God and he has given me strength.

"To start the new season against my old club Livingston was also a nice one for me.

"I enjoyed seeing the championship flag at Ibrox. When I was at Livi we did the same with the First Division flag but this one was really special."

Marv was sporting his trademark grin when Chairman David Murray unfurled the flag before Sunday's SPL opener and he had good reason.

The strapping centre back played a key role for Rangers last term - scoring four goals in 38 games - and cemented his relationship with the fans with a series of consistent displays despite playing alongside four different partners - Jean-Alain Boumsong, Craig Moore, Zurab Khizanishvili and Bob Malcolm.

Sadly, he missed out on a certain CIS Cup Final start - which would have earned him a second successive winners' medal, due to the knee injury he sustained at Dens Park.

However, the big man was back in action for the business end of the campaign and it was only right he finished a champion.

The 29-year-old, who was voted Player of the Year by his Murray Park team-mates last term, recalled: "Last season was tremendous and I thank God so much for making it all possible.

"I had a successful year even though I picked up a knee injury and I was proud to finish the season with an SPL winners' medal.

"It was a wonderful experience and I hope we can do even better this season.

"Nobody could have expected the season to finish in such a dramatic way but we never gave up and got our reward in the end.

"We have a fantastic spirit at this club and we proved that in the last game at Easter Road.

"Some people were very negative towards us but that is just life.

"We had the desire to succeed and we were always confident we could do something.

"We will continue to work hard this season and we are all spurred on and eager for more success.

"Winning trophies is what football is all about and we will try to win every competition we enter.

"This is also a big season for me because I am into the last year of my contract.

"But I have enjoyed my time at Rangers Football Club and I will do all I can to stay longer. I will keep working hard and we will see what happens."