Folau and Kepu get rest at training

There are few things that can strike fear into the heart of Waratahs fans like the sight of Israel Folau sitting out training.

The dual international ran drills under the watchful eye of the the Waratahs' physiotherapist and strength and conditioning staff, and had a conversation with coach Michael Cheika, before joining fellow starters Sekope Kepu, Alofa Alofa, Kane Douglas and Paddy Ryan on the sideline on Tuesday.

But while Ryan has been ruled out with a lower ankle sprain, Douglas is recovering from a jarred back and Alofa from a corked thigh, NSW team management were adamant Folau and Kepu were merely resting after a short turnaround from Sunday's big win against the Highlanders.

"There are guys still with bangs and bumps that we're not totally sure about being available but, to my knowledge, Paddy's definitely out and everyone else should be ready to go," NSW defence coach Nathan Grey said.

Head coach Michael Cheika will not name his team to play the Reds until Thursday to give the bumps and bruises time to settle.

Ryan, who has started on the bench behind Kepu for the past two matches, is the only certain omission. Youngster Mike Alaalatoa will come into the match-day squad to provide cover.

"It's a great opportunity for Mike, he's trained with the squad the whole year and he's an exciting young talent," Grey said.

The Reds, meanwhile, will be without a host of big names from their back line, including Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Dom Shipperley, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Anthony Fainga'a and, most recently, replacement halfback Nick Frisby.

The loss of experience will hit hard when the 12th-placed team come up against a side that has locked away the minor premiership with a game in hand.

But NSW winger Rob Horne said the teams' fierce historic rivalry meant the "form guide goes out the window every year" in this clash. Judging by the fiery comments from Queensland and Test prop James Slipper on Tuesday, the Reds have already burnt their copy to cinders.

"We understand that they've had a really good year and they're deservedly at the top of the table," Slipper said.

"Taking nothing away from that, I just don't like seeing NSW win anything, in any sport.

"So going into this weekend, that's a major cue for us to make sure we bring our A game and make sure we really front up."

Horne said the Waratahs were wary of the Reds' home-ground advantage and were desperate not to give opposition teams anything leading into the finals.

"Them playing at home, at Suncorp, they feel good when they play there, they feel comfortable, so that's something already that's a big challenge for us heading up there," he said.

"And number two, it's a NSW-Queensland game. The form goes out the window every year with that game so it's an important game for everyone involved to represent their teammates and their state."

The Waratahs have also done their research on rookie Reds centre Samu Kerevi, who has been about the only – currently signed – player generating much buzz north of the border.

The 185-centimetre, 104-kilogram centre made his run-on debut in Queensland's 30-20 loss to the Force last week and was a lone bright spot in his team's lacklustre capitulation.

"He had an outstanding game on the weekend so that's a big positive for them moving forward, with all the guys they have out, having a go-to in the midfield," Horne, a former centre, said. "He's an important piece of their puzzle already."

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