“IF there is someone from rugby who ask me what I am doing now, they say ‘wow that is a massive change.”

These are the words of former Bulls player Nathan Graham who is currently working on the coronavirus ward at the Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Graham, who was also used to be Keighley Cougars' assistant coach, has worked as an operating department practitioner, someone who looks after all the anaesthetic machines and airway equipment, since 2001 after already preparing for a career post playing once he retired from the game three years later.

With the NHS closing the department the 48-year-old works on, he was placed on the intensive care unit to work every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

Speaking on the change of job, Graham admits it has been demanding wearing the PPE but has embraced the chance to learn some new skills.

He said: “It has been mentally challenging.

“Quite a lot of staff has been redeployed to work in ICU, especially people in my role because we are used to dealing with ventilated patients.

“It is the respiratory face masks after a while they do hurt. When you take the mask off, your nose is bright red and you have got the strap marks all over your face. It is either wear one or put yourself at risk, so it is the only option unfortunately.

“When they knew all this was going to kick off we had a crash course in ICU so we did a couple of shifts there and doubled up with one of their nurses to see how things worked.

“There has been a lot of new skills that we have had to learn.”

It has been the loss of life that has shocked Graham the most.

He added: “Deaths in theatres are rare so to see it happen more often it is really eye opening and it does make you think about things.”

Graham is determined to turn all the negatives that come from the pandemic into positives by hoping the community togetherness that has been created in this unprecedented period remains.

He also describes the feeling of what it is like seeing everyone coming out to appreciate the NHS on what has become a weekly event amongst households up and down the country.

“It is (quite emotional),” he said. “At the BRI all the emergency services park up at the main entrance and they get all the sirens going, lights flashing and there is people outside clapping.

“If I get a chance to look out of the window it is awesome to see.

“My wife and kids do the same and all the neighbours are out. I usually miss it because I am at work which is a bit of a shame.

“People have rallied around and there is a bit more of a community spirit. It can be built on and I just hope people don’t revert back to their old ways.

“I don’t think they will because everything will be in place for a year or so. That would be a positive that would come out of an negative.

“Our neighbours next door moved in a year ago and we didn’t get to know them. Now we know them really well, we’ve baked each other cakes and had chats.

“I am sure it has brought people together a bit more.”

Graham was a part of that special 1997 Super League winning team during his three years at Bradford which kick started the club’s ‘golden era’.

The versatile player also featured in a Challenge Cup final, which Bulls narrowly lost to St Helens at Wembley Stadium, before departing after the 1998 campaign.

Graham went on to feature for a whole host of different teams including Dewsbury Rams, Featherstone Rovers and York City Knights, before calling it a day.

He then stepped into coaching, working his way up the ranks of the nation he captained as a player, Scotland, becoming their head coach last year.

All eyes would ordinarily be on planning for the 2021 World Cup, hosted in England, but the former full back is just hopeful that the tournament will go ahead in these uncertain times.

“It is a year in October so hopefully in that time we will be back to some normality.

“It depends when they are going to let crowds back in. I am not sure there is much point of having a World Cup on if you don’t allow fans to come watch it.”