Kankowski, one of 11 Boks in the starting XV, will start at No.8 after he returned from his stint in Japan last week.
It will be his first starting role, after he played off the bench in a warm-up match against the Lions last Friday.
Lock Anton Bresler is the only non-Bok in the pack.
Fullback SP Marais, centre Paul Jordaan and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach are the only uncapped players among the backs.
There are another three Boks on the Sharks bench – Lourens Adriaanse, Jean Deysel and Charl McLeod.
Sharks Director of Rugby has had a consistent theme this week – warning his charges against complacency, despite them being overwhelming favourites.
“Let’s take nothing away from the Bulls, they’ve won the competition three times and that’s more than any other South African side, The challenge is that a team needs to dominate, you need to be able to beat those teams. The challenge that we sit with is if we’re not good enough to beat the Bulls at home in this round, the chances are we will struggle against the likes of the Blues and Crusaders in Auckland and Christchurch. That’s what it takes to win this competition, you have to beat teams like that and the Bulls at home.” White said.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 S’bura Sithole.
Date: Saturday, February 15 Venue: Kings Park, Durban Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)