Sharks player Francois Steyn is tackled by the Bulls' Wynand Olivier (left) and Morne Steyn (right).

Sharks coach John Plumtree lauded the impact of Frans Steyn upon his return to Super Rugby action on Friday night, saying the Springbok centre had “come back a man” following a three-year stint in France.

“He’s just grown since he’s left and that’s natural,” said Plumtree.

“He’s left as boy and come back a man, it’s great to see and great for us.

“He’s an outstanding individual.”

Steyn was not entirely dominating, but still played an important part in his first match back for the Durban side after leaving Racing Metro, as they crushed the Bulls 32-10 at King's Park Stadium on Friday.

Apart from landing a 55-metre penalty, the 25-year-old also contributed crucially on defence and made several key carries forward as the Sharks kept their play-off hopes alive with an emphatic win that pushed them to sixth on the overall log.

“He’s a class player, I mean he just has so much of time,” Plumtree said.

“He gets caught in contact and still manages to offload.

“His kicking game is great and just as his calmness, his enthusiasm and his leadership are great qualities for him and for us.”

Louis Ludik’s late try added to further scores from Bismarck du Plessis, JP Pietersen and captain Keegan Daniel, and ensured that the home side secured a bonus-point win.

It was their first outing since they were stunned 38-28 by the Lions prior to the June international break, which was followed by a bye last week.

“It was a big challenge for us after that long break,” Plumtree, whose side face the Cheetahs in their last match, said.

“I was really pleased with how it went.

“We had a few big injuries to contend with, but the guys that stepped up did it really well.

“We wanted to be ambitious and speed the tempo of the game up, and to do that we needed to support each other really well and I thought we were superb.”

The defeat for the Bulls meant that they must now win their last match at home to the Lions in order to secure qualification.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke conceded that the Sharks were the better side on the night and paid tribute to the game plan they had brought into the game.

“The Sharks played really well,” he said.

“They had that extra week and were really fresh. They did their homework and surprised us in the line-out.

“They applied pressure on our set-piece and we were always on the back foot, we just couldn’t get any momentum going.” – Sapa