Incentive to winBut the glittering incentive for the home team is that they can usurp South Africa and return to the top of the rankings with victory in the three-Test series, which also includes matches in Adelaide and Perth.
Skipper Graeme Smith said South Africa were taking strength from their first ever series win on Australian soil on their last tour, in 2008-09.
"Obviously, winning here four years ago certainly helps in the self-belief factor, knowing that you've overcome a hurdle before," Smith said.
The Proteas will unleash their formidable pace battery, led by Test cricket's leading pair Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander and backed up by Morne Morkel.
The Gabba pitch traditionally offers early life and bounce, with the South Africans yet to win in three Brisbane visits, the last in 1963.
Australia go into the opening Test without all-rounder Shane Watson, who succumbed to a calf injury and was replaced by left-hander Rob Quiney, who will be making his Test debut.