Bismarck excluded from Sharks squad ahead of Bulls clash

However, fellow Springbok forward Tendai Mtawarira has returned in one of three changes to the run-on XV.

There was growing speculation that hooker Du Plessis will return from almost 10 months out after undergoing knee surgery last year, while another experienced man expected to return, Butch James, has also been excluded.

“Butch James and Bismarck du Plessis aren't fit yet so they haven't been included,” coach John Plumtree said.

Mtawarira, who missed his side's tour to Australasia with a calf problem, returns to the starting fold ahead of JC Janse van Rensburg.

The other changes see Piet Lindeque come in at centre for midfielder JP Pietersen, with Pieter-Steph du Toit replacing the injured Anton Bresler.

“We're forced to make a change, with JP Pietersen out, meaning Piet Lindeque will start in his place. Anton Bresler hurt his shoulder in training today so he's out this week," said Plumtree.

'Big game for both teams'
The coastal franchise face their fierce northern rivals at Kings Park on Saturday, on the back of snapping a five-match losing streak in Perth last Friday.

“This is a big game for both teams, the Bulls have been playing really well lately, their forward have dominated and they're enjoying momentum,” Plumtree added.

“They've also dominated territory through their kicking game, they've dominated upfront and we know it's going to be a really tough game for us.”

The Sharks team includes: Riaan Viljoen, Odwa Ndungane, Piet Lindeque, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Franco van der Merwe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jannie du Plessis, Kyle Cooper, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Monde Hadebe, Wiehahn Herbst, Jandre Marais, Jean Deysel, Lubabalo Mtembu, Tian Meyer, Sean Robinson. – Sapa

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