EDDIE JONES claims his England players will be heading to Japan in “good shape” after they completed their World Cup preparations with an emphatic 37-0 win over Italy at St James’ Park.

After struggling to break down a resolute Italian defence in the first half as Newcastle staged its first England international, Jones’ players cut loose after the interval with Ben Youngs, Joe Marchant, Ellis Genge and Anthony Watson all scoring tries.

England open their World Cup campaign against Tonga on September 22, with the United States, Argentina and France completing their list of opponents in the group stage.

“We’re going in the right direction,” said Jones. “There are 20 teams about to get on their planes, and they will all want to win the World Cup. We’re one of those 20.

“Have we made the maximum of our preparation? I think we’ve done a pretty good job, although you always want to do better and we’ve still got a bit of time to go.”

Jones was happy with last night’s workout, even though his players were a notch or two below the levels they set when they thrashed Ireland a fortnight ago.

England conceded possession cheaply on a number of occasions in the first half, with Jones admitting there was a degree of ring-rust in the wake of last week’s training camp in Italy.

However, he felt the sharpness returned after the interval, and claims his side’s first-half struggles could act as a useful wake-up call with the World Cup just around the corner.

“That was an outstanding game for us,” he said. “I thought at the start, we were a bit like a cricketer who has just scored a hundred and wants to go in and try to whack the ball around from the start. Maybe we were still thinking about the pasta and pizza from Treviso in the first half, but in the second half we got that out of our system and were much more purposeful.

“We were a bit loose with the ball early on, but the players buckled down and played with much more intent in the second half. You’ve got to give Italy credit, that was probably their best defensive performance for quite a while, and it was a good test for us.”

Jones was especially pleased to see his players avoid any serious injury concerns, with the knocks sustained by Joe Launchbury and Luke Cowan-Dickie not expected to prove serious.

However, the England boss delivered some more worrying news about prop Mako Vunipola, who was not involved in last night’s squad.

Vunipola has been struggling with a hamstring injury, but it had been hoped he would be fit enough to feature in England’s opening World Cup outing.

However, he is now expected to miss the first two matches against Tonga and the United States, with a possible return date pencilled in for England’s third group game against Argentina.

It is not inconceivable that he could miss the whole of the group stage, but Jones insists there is no chance of him being replaced in England’s 31-man squad.

“Mako definitely won’t be available (for the first game),” he said. “We feel he will be right for game three or four.

“Mako is a very important player for us, and we can cover for him. We’ve got two loose-heads who are in great form, and one who can also play at tight-head. We can carry it, and we’re confident Mako will have a great contribution for us.”