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First impressions last

Ben McKinley has sent an early message about his future ambitions just days after joining his new teammates at North Melbourne.

In the first of a series of grueling hikes on the camp in Utah, the former West Coast forward wasn't afraid to get out in front of the main group and lead the way up some intimidating slopes.

"It's been a tough little initiation with the first couple of hikes, but I'm having heaps of fun," McKinley told

But he didn't have much time to bask in the spotlight after the eight hour adventure, with teammates affectionately applying some old fashioned tall-poppy treatment and nicknaming him 'Hero'.

"I was just trying to help the boys out by leading them. I've got the big legs so they might as well be good for something. I was just trying to help them out, it was a little but unappreciative by them I think," McKinley joked.

Now in his fifth pre-season, the 23 year-old says he couldn't be more pleased with the vibe around the young group.

"All the guys have been really good and it's a fantastic opportunity with the camp to get to know everyone. I'm really enjoying it.

"A camp's a different structure to how it is normally in the pre-season, so we are all sort of learning together, but everyone's been really helpful."

McKinley says the trip will provide him with the perfect opportunity to rectify and work on some weaknesses in his game.

"I'm trying to get better with my aerobic capacity because it's never really been my strong point. That's where this camp is going to be really good for me and I will try and make some gains in that area.

"If I can come back and run with the midfielders, then hopefully I can play a bit through the midfield this year and be a bit more versatile."