Tom Highmore | Focus shifts to Sydney Uni

Canberra vice-captain Tom Highmore is looking to move on quickly from Good Friday’s 6-point loss to Southport and shift his focus to the club's clash with Sydney University this weekend.

Tom Highmore has been a shining light in Canberra's disappointing start to the season. Photo: TJ Yelds/NEAFL

Highmore was evidently upset with his side’s performance against the Sharks', knowing the response next week will be crucial if Canberra are to remain a premiership threat in 2019.

"The loss really hurt and was disappointing, but I was super proud of the guys for there effort and execution of the game plan on Friday," said Highmore.

"To not come away with the result in front of a really great crowd at our home ground was disappointing, but there are plenty of takeaways and learnings to be had from playing against such quality opposition."

Canberra will enjoy an 8-day break before running out onto Henson Park against Sydney University on Saturday, giving them a good opportunity to bounce back immediately.

“When you come off tough losses you almost want to get straight back out there and try to rectify it,” Highmore said.

"The loss against Redland was obviously a huge wake up call that you can't afford to take any opposition lightly in this competition otherwise you'll get smashed."

"The loss to Southport was a much better showing but again laments the importance of having to play for 120 minutes otherwise you might not get the result you're after."

"But it's definitely not panic stations, we know what the process is and if we look after ourselves and what we can control the results will take care of themselves."

The clash with the Students' is set to be an exciting one for the players, as Highmore said he always looks forward to the contest against the club's "biggest rival".

“The Sydney Uni game is a very special one,” he said.

"I don't think there is any doubt they're our biggest rival, and they definitely had the better of us for a number of years but last year we began the process of evening out that ledger."

"We know it will be a tough encounter this weekend as they have proven in the early rounds of the competition this year."

"We will approach this game like any other, continuing to work on our deficiencies, but I think the squad will have enough fire in the belly and hunger to make this weeks game special."

Highmore understands there is plenty of areas to improve in order to compete with Sydney on Saturday, after breaking down in patches against the reigning premiers Southport.

"I think it comes down to just continuing to execute the game plan when we are under pressure and under fatigue," he said.

"Making sure we don't continue to make the same mistakes and keep each other accountable is essential to rectifying the results from the past couple of weeks."

While Highmore said the belief in the group was still there on Friday, he admits the team will need to review the game strongly to resolve what went wrong.

"It really came down to two key factors, the first being not applying enough scoreboard pressure in the first quarter when we were dominant, and probably letting them pile on a few consecutive goals in the third quarter which ultimately proved too much to come back from."

“We’ll look at that and digest it over the next day or two and bounce back strongly this weekend.”

Canberra could welcome back an array of senior talent for the Sydney University clash headlined by Kel Evans and Sam Martyn who are nearing returns from injury.

"We pride ourselves at Canberra on having enough depth to cover the loss of any players, and that's been important in the early part of this season and last year particularly with a number of our key players injured and missing large periods of football."

"The beauty is it provides other players with a chance to prove themselves and we have already had a number of debutants this season which have taken there opportunities with both hands."

"In saying that, Sam (Martyn) is a proven jet at this level and although his injury has given a great insight into his future coaching ability, we are eager to get him back out there as quickly as possible."

"Kel has been outstanding over the pre-season and is already a key component of our side."

"Both these guys have super work rate and play with ticker every week so getting these guys back soon is exciting."

Canberra’s clash with Sydney Uni kicks off from Henson Park at 12:00pm on Saturday afternoon.

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