There was still no Patrick Lambie, who was expected to return after the June international break, while the all-Springbok front row was also gone after the trio of Bismarck, brother Jannie du Plessis, and Tendai Mtawarira had endured a heavy workload in recent months.
Bismarck and Jannie were on the bench, while it appears Mtawarira continues to recover from a bulging disc in his neck that saw him miss last week’s match for South Africa against Scotland.
The Sharks lost their last Super Rugby outing against the Stormers before the break and in the only change to the backline from that game, Tim Swiel comes in at flyhalf where Francois Steyn was standing in.
Steyn, who withdrew from the Springbok squad for the three test programme due to personal reasons, moves back to his familiar centre role in place of Paul Jordaan.
First-choice number 10, Lambie, has been given a further week to recover from the torn bicep he injured more than three months ago.
Lourens Adriaanse, Kyle Cooper and Dale Chadwick make up a new front-row, with only Marcell Coetzee surviving the loose trio as Ryan Kankowski and Jean Deysel return for Willem Alberts and Tera Mtembu.
Deysel, back after a three-week suspension, wears the captain’s armband.
There is also a change at lock where Anton Bresler, who announced on Wednesday that he would be moving to Scotland at the end of the season, replaces Etienne Oosthuizen.
Front-rower Thomas du Toit could make his debut off the bench, where only Charl McLeod survives from the last game, while Tonderai Chavhanga is back from injury.
The clash in the Free State is one of two regular season games remaining for the second-placed Sharks, who must win against the Cheetahs and the Stormers to give themselves a chance of a home final.
“The Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, they’re a strong side, you can see that from their record,” White said ahead of the game.
“They have knocked over some good sides at home and despite all the Springbok players they have from the weekend, it’s not really about the players they have in their roster, they’re a good team.
“We just need to make sure we prepare ourselves properly.”
Sharks team: SP Marais, JP Pietersen, S’bura Sithole, Frans Steyn, Lwazi Mvovo, Tim Swiel, Cobus Reinach, Ryan Kankowski, Jean Deysel (captain), Marcell Coetzee, Anton Bresler, Stephan Lewies, Lourens Adriaanse, Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: Thomas du Toit, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Willem Alberts, Tera Mtembu, Charl McLeod, Odwa Ndungane, Tonderai Chavhanga.