LIFE is good for Sam Powell-Pepper.
He is a committed partner to Brya, a devoted father to Frankie - a family man as he has wanted to be for a long time.
And, by no surprise, football is good again for "SPP" who stepped away from the game at the start of last season.
"I am the happiest I've ever been," said Powell-Pepper at Alberton on Wednesday in the lead-up to his 100th AFL game, on Friday night at Adelaide Oval against the Western Bulldogs.
"I've started my own little family with my partner Brya and little Frankie. Life is unreal. I have a lot of great support around me, so I am very happy.
"My coaches and my team-mates are like a family; they help me.
"Brya came to Adelaide from Perth last year and she has really helped me off field. Her family is such a great support as well. I have embraced the family aspect. I am a family man now and that has helped me so much with my footy. I am so much clearer (in my role) and loving my footy now.
"(Fatherhood) opens your mind so much. It is hard to talk about because you cannot explain what it is until it happens to you. I always wanted to be a father since I was a young bloke. It has come a bit quicker than I thought, but I would not change it for the world.
"Frankie is the most perfect little girl. After a loss you come home to her and it puts everything into perspective. You want to go back to the club on Monday to get going again. You have a purpose, a reason to play."
Powell-Pepper, 24, is no longer on uncertain ground with his football having established a critical team role as a forward, more so than as a midfielder, at Port Adelaide this season ... and, surprisingly, as a second ruckman in recent weeks.
"I pride myself on being a great team-mate, so wherever the team needs me and whatever I need to do for the boys, I will do it," Powell-Pepper said. "I'm known as a midfielder, but I've been playing more forward the past few years - and I have really enjoyed it. I have learned a lot from (forwards coach) Nathan Bassett and I have taken the role with both hands.
"I am pretty happy with my role in the team. We have some unreal midfielders, like Connor Rozee and Zak Butters who put some speed into the game. I fit in pretty well in the forward line. I like my role there. When I get a burst in the midfield, I'll take it.
"Wherever the team needs me, I'll go."
Even into ruck ...
"I did not know if (senior coach Ken Hinkley) was joking around with me, so I was not sure (when it was first mentioned)," Powell-Pepper said. "Then it came up in the second meeting, so I thought, 'Oh, I'm actually doing it'.
"I feel I have held up alright. It was hard on the weekend (against Port Adelaide club champion and St Kilda ruckman Patrick Ryder) and Tom Campbell; they were a bit hard to move. I'll take that opportunity as that fourth mid putting some pressure on. Ken tells me to go in there to have a crack; just be competitive.
"I did message 'Paddy' before the game against Carlton for some advice, any tips in the ruck. He gave me a few pointers. But we were pretty gassed after the game (on Saturday night in Cairns) so we didn't say much."
Powell-Pepper reaches his 100th AFL game five years after making his league debut against Sydney - and with a win - in the 2017 season-opener at the SCG. He picked up 19 disposals, scored two goals and was immediately acknowledged with the Rising Star nomination. His personal bests still include the 17 tackles that tormented the Melbourne players in Friday Night Football at Adelaide Oval in June 2018.
"It has gone quick, I can tell you that," Powell-Pepper said. "It has just flown by. I remember my first game; it was Travis Boak's 200th and I still remember that one to this day.
"There have been a fair bit of ups and downs, but I reckon there has been a lot more ups than downs and I have enjoyed every minute of it."
Drafted from Western Australia as the No. 18 pick in the 2016 AFL national draft, Powell-Pepper became a headline of the recent AFL trade period when West Coast asked of his availability - regardless of his contracted status at Alberton.
West Coast had taken note of Powell-Pepper sitting in the medical substitute seat during Port Adelaide's two home finals against Geelong and Western Bulldogs in September - and the public challenge set in October by Port Adelaide football chief Chris Davies.
"I didn't know anything (about the trade option); I was just going about my off-season," Powell-Pepper said. "Nothing at my end. I love playing at Port Adelaide.
"For me, it is the family aspect. The boys are my brothers. You want to play each week and you want to do what you can for the boys, the coaches, the staff, everyone ... you never feel alone. You always have someone. It is family.
"(Chris Davies) didn't say anything that I didn't know. I had set myself some challenges and some goals and I reached those (during the pre-season) and the rewards are coming now with pretty consistent footy. I just want to continue that.
"It did not bother me (the ultimatum from the club) because I had set those goals for myself. I always have that mindset where I want to prove people wrong and do what is best.
"The club gave me an (off-season) program and you can stick to that and come back in good nick. But I did extra here and there. I made sure I came to the club each week to be part of running groups and I made sure I wasn't doing it all by myself.
"I had a few things off-field that I need to get sorted. But that was last year ... I took some time away to sort things out. I was definitely better for it.
"A year has gone now and I am in a much better place. I am grateful for everything I have now - and grateful for every opportunity I get."
Port Adelaide's need to atone for last year's 71-point loss to the Western Bulldogs in the home preliminary final has Powell-Pepper choosing to stay in the "now" rather than mull over the team's worst performance of Season 2021.
"It obviously wasn't the best result ... but it is in the past; we are staying in the present and looking forward to Friday night," Powell-Pepper said. "We are keen to get out there to get a win.
"We are coming back with a bit of vengeance and want to get that one back."