The 31-year-old prop, who signed a two-year contract at Kings Park back in February, replaces Lourens Adriaanse in the front row.
The remaining two changes are also in the pack as Dale Chadwick makes his first start of the campaign instead of rising young star Thomas du Toit.
Francois Kleinhans takes over at lock from JC Astle, who has not recovered from the concussion he suffered in last week’s 34-17 win over the Pumas.
“It’s a combination of giving other guys opportunities and resting guys that have played quite a bit of rugby,” Macleod-Henderson said of the decision to rotate his squad.
“So we did plan to mix things up and make changes.”
The backline has remained untouched, while the bench also sports plenty of changes as Monde Hadebe, Hanco Venter and Patrick Lambie make way for Franco Marais, Conrad Hoffmann and Heimar Williams.
Johan Meyer is bracketed with Springbok lock Stephan Lewies, who was unavailable last week.
The KwaZulu-Natal side, who are defending champions, won both their opening games, while the Cheetahs were surprised by the Pumas in their opening game, before bouncing back to beat neighbours Griquas last week.
“We’re very happy with where we are right now and the guys have been working really hard,” Macleod-Henderson added.
“It’s a tough competition as we said from the start, fortunately we’ve got through the first two games but we have another tough one on Saturday and we’re looking forward to playing Free State.”
Sharks team: SP Marais, Odwa Ndungane, S’bura Sithole, Paul Jordaan, Tonderai Chavhanga, Fred Zeilinga, Cameron Wright, Tera Mtembu (captain), Francois Kleinhans, Jacques Botes, Marco Wentzel, Etienne Oosthuizen, Matt Stevens, Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: Franco Marais, Thomas du Toit, Lourens Adriaanse, Johan Meyer/Stephan Lewies, Conrad Hoffmann, Heimar Williams, Lionel Cronje.