The 2011 NAB AFL Draft was held on November 24 in Sydney with the GIANTS selecting Eastern Ranges forward Jonathon Patton with the number one pick. 

The club also added fellow first-round picks Stephen Coniglio, Dom Tyson, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Matt Buntine, Nick Haynes, Adam Tomlinson, Liam Sumner, Toby Greene, Taylor Adams, Devon Smith, as well as Tom Downie later in the draft.

Recruits Callan Ward and Phil Davis and veteran Luke Power were named as the three co-captains of the GIANTS for the 2012 season.

The club played its first game in the Australian Football League as a stand-alone fixture on March 24 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney Olympic Park in front of 38,203 fans.

The Sydney Swans 14.16 (100) def. GWS GIANTS 5.7 (37) by 63 points. Co-captain Callan Ward kicked the first-ever goal for the League’s 18th team.

GIANTS 2012 Round 1 Team
B: Tomas Bugg, Phil Davis, Adam Kennedy
HB: Jack Hombsch, Tim Mohr, Will Hoskin-Elliott

C: Rhys Palmer, Callan Ward, Chad Cornes

HF: Nathan Wilson, Israel Folau, Stephen Coniglio

F: Curtly Hampton, Jeremy Cameron, Devon Smith

Foll: Jonathan Giles, Dylan Shiel, James McDonald

I/C: Jacob Townsend, Toby Greene, Adam Tomlinson, Dom Tyson

The club’s first win came in Round 7 on May 12, 2012 against fellow expansion side the Gold Coast Suns in the club’s second home in Canberra.

A four-goal final quarter saw the GIANTS run out 27-point winners for their first-ever victory.

The club registered its second win, a 34 point victory over Port Adelaide, at the GIANTS Stadium in Round 19 in Kevin Sheedy's 1000th game as a player and coach. The club finished 18th with two wins for the season.

Co-captain Callan Ward was the club’s inaugural Kevin Sheedy Medal winner as the club’s Best and Fairest player with young forward Jeremy Cameron the club’s leading goalkicker with 29 goals.

After playing 13 games for the club, Israel Folau left the club to pursue a career in Rugby Union while James McDonald and Luke Power retired to take up full-time coaching roles with the club.