THERE is more to success in international sport than merely racking up caps and standing on the winner’s podium.
Sometimes just making the field can be a watershed moment in itself.
Take the Zimbabwe Sables’ latest recruit Graham Cochrane for example.
In the modern age of sport, Cochrane is something of a late bloomer.
The Hooker, who also doubles as a prop, made his international debut a fortnight ago, just over two months shy of turning 29, when the Sables crushed Zambia 64-3 in an international friendly at Harare Sports Club.
The game was nothing to write home about as the Old Georgians hooker came into the match, as a second half substitute, with the game virtually over as a contest.
However, it is a moment the 28-year-old regards as one of his best highlights of his career.
“Yes, I am something of a late bloomer,” said Cochrane.
“It took me over a decade to get the chance to play for my country, but that takes nothing away from the occasion.
“I have no regrets about how my rugby career has panned out and only look forward to bigger and better things in the future,” he said.
On the momentous occasion, Cochrane said;” I came in as a second half substitute and remember being very nervous.
“There had been a couple of fights, during the match, and it being a derby (Southern African), of sorts, against our regional neighbors for that matter, emotions were running wild.
“I have played in front of crowds in the region of 10 000 before, but the Zimbabwe crowd is clearly the most passionate, the most vocal and the most rowdy.
“Luckily, I thrive on just high pressure situations and in the end I think I played a good game,” he said.
Now, for a better understanding of Cochrane’s story, one will have to go back in time.
Roughly 28 years to be exact.
Born September 4, 1988, Graham Cochrane held his first rugby ball, way before he could thoroughly complete his A, B, C.
His father, Peter Cochrane, is a former rugby player who played mostly for Natal University and the then Rhodesia national team in the late 70s.
He is credited for first introducing Graham to the game.
“I don’t really remember when I started playing rugby, suffice to say I have vague memories playing around with a small rugby ball as toddler.
“Like most sons, my father has been a great influence on my choices in life and it was inevitable that I would play the sport,’ he said.
The younger Cochrane took his ball-pun intended- and ran with it; playing rugby at St Johns, Royal Grammar School and Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
It was only in the UK, that Cochrane’s other interest really started to come to the surface and stall his development in the sport.
“When I went to the UK, I had a choice to make; play rugby or concentrate on my studies.
“I chose the latter and came out with a degree in biology from Oxford University,” he said.
Cochrane spent roughly ten years in the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2010 before the allure of Zimbabwe weather and hospitality called him back home.
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