What a difference a year makes for Anthony Posa, the Hutchesons'/Aloysians Croatian international stand-off.

Tomorrow he will be enjoying the delights of the club's Auldhouse ground in a tie against Boroughmuir, the first division title challengers and holders of the BT Cellnet Scottish Cup. It will be an experience sure to encompass a chill wind and mud-sodden strip, and could also turn into an on-field nightmare if 'Muir take control of the game.

Last year, and the one before, things were completely different. Posa was enjoying the heat of a New Zealand summer, he and his Croatian buddies having gone south for warm-weather training.

Born in Auckland, with all four grandparents hailing from Croatia, he comes from the Waitemata club whose greatest player is Michael Jones.

Another member is Gavin Walsh, the current H/A player-coach, who persuaded him to play stand-off at Auldhouse.

''This is the first season I have played in the UK,'' says 29-year-old Posa. ''So it is the first time I have played in the conditions you have in the depths of winter. Glasgow, particularly the guys at H/As, has treated me well. But the rain and mud are something else.

''I am not one to rush in after a few months and tell you how to run things, but . . . if you in Scotland really want to raise the standard of your game you should think of summer rugby.''

Posa is drawing on experience. He was playing in Italy when the Croatian rugby people, reckoning from his surname that he might be someone to do a job for them as they tried to qualify for the 1999 World Cup, asked him to get on board. He settled in the town of Makarska on the Dalmatian coast, learned the language, played for the town side, and appeared in 20 tests consecutively for Croatia.

''At that time, in 1996, Croatia were ranked seventy-fifth in the world. We are now twenty-first. I am very proud of that. In sevens we are now ranked sixteenth - probably higher than Scotland.''

The simple reason behind this might be divined as the arrival of another six Kiwis, not least Frano Botica and Mathew Cooper of the Waikato Chiefs.

However, Posa feels the decent domestic conditions, plus the warm-weather winter training have played a big part. In both 1999 and 2000, while in the Southern Hemisphere, Croatia became involved in the developing international sevens circuit.

Tomorrow will not be Posa's first meeting with Boroughmuir's Kiwi star, Calvin Howarth. ''I remember facing him some years ago for a junior Auckland side when he was with North Harbour. Calvin was always recognised as a player with potential. I hear he gained a lot of confidence here and really developed.''

Posa, however, takes into tomorrow's tie the confidence that comes from having tangled with big names on the international sevens circuit. The most memorable moment came in Croatia's opening game in the 1999 Hong Kong Sevens.

Facing the All Blacks, the boys from the Balkans were leading 12-10 with the seconds running out. Then they were awarded a penalty. Posa remembers: ''Due to a mixture of its not being the ethic of sevens to kick a penalty and failure of communication due to the sheer level of noise, we tapped it. We should have kicked, since even if we had missed the time would have run out.'' Instead, the ball was turned over and Eric Rush ran the length of the field to score.

So Boroughmuir's big names hold no fear. However, Posa is not so sure if that applies to the youngsters in his side that tops division one of the national league. ''There are six or seven guys still under 21. Many of them were still at school a year ago, boys like scrum half Andy Scott and flanker John Fitzpatrick.

''Sometimes I feel they do not recognise their potential. Last week against Musselburgh, they stood off early on and sized the other guys up, instead of just going for it. That is the biggest task we older ones have had this week - persuading the youngsters they can do it.''

H/As are hoping for a big crowd. If you have not seen them play recently, Posa is the one with frighteningly blond hair. Prepare for a player who, whether for Croatia or H/As, produces a 100 per cent performance every time.