And just as he lifted you by his actions he also tried hard to make you see the game his way. In the England camp he would always give a presentation on the Friday before the final team run. It was fascinating to see the way his brain worked in coloured markers and flip charts.
The pitch was drawn perfectly, his handwriting any teacher would die for. His talks were always 15 minutes long and by the time they were over the whole team knew exactly what was happening on any given area of the field at any given time.
I may not have agreed with him on all of it, but I certainly understood what was needed. And no matter what I may have thought tactically he would usually do something remarkable and shoot my arguments down by his sheer will to succeed.
People will always talk about the World Cup but in my view the best example of Jonny’s skills was in the Grand Slam decider in March 2003. He was fly-half perfection.
He made plus 20 tackles, covered the field like a flanker, nailed his penalties and conversions like a marksman, was inch perfect with his kicks from hand and dropped goals, off each foot into and against the wind.
But with Jonny, the playing part of the game was only part of the puzzle. He really was the first proper rugby heart-throb of the professional era and it didn’t always sit easily.
His drive for success on the field and hunt for perfection was called obsessive behaviour off it; his ability to command and direct the show during the game sometimes meant he felt a little helpless outside of it; and his role as leading man and fancy dan was a difficult fit for someone who loves their privacy. Ironically, as he has found more happiness and balance off the field so his game at the highest level has creaked.
But if I am honest, who could begrudge him that and when I have seen him in his new setting of the South of France he seems a much happier person. When I first met up with him in Toulon he was on a basketball court taking part in what looked like a rugby all stars match.
Flinging the ball about were Pierre Mignoni, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, and Joe van Niekerk. Felipe Contepomi was watching. Jonny was in amongst them, smile on his face.
In the lead up to that meeting the years had given more injuries than smiles, but here he was explaining that the move to France was all about playing for himself and not embarrassed that his hair was longer and his guitar playing was improving. Rugby was important and less important all at the same time.
I have two memories that should tell you everything that matters about Jonny. When that final whistle went after that dropped goal in 2003 I found myself jumping up and down with the man who would become a national icon.
At that moment you see two mates just jumping around like overgrown kids. It is the pure joy of sport and friendship and it is Jonny at his best. There is no guard or fear, you just see someone happy because they did what they could and they delivered for their team when it mattered.
The second memory comes courtesy of my wife who was in hospital during the World Cup when we had come close to losing our now seven-year-old son Archie.
The midwives would run through and ask if he had texted and, always the thoughtful fella, he stayed in touch during that difficult time.
The midwives looked horrified when Caro told them she had deleted the texts — they could not understand how you could delete a text from Jonny. But what matters is he sent them.
So when people ask why Jonny mattered as a rugby player the answer is simple — he was someone who lived for the game and his team-mates and made us all better through his actions on and off the field.