MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 11: Chris Mayne of the Magpies in action during the Collingwood Magpies training session at Olympic Park Oval on January 11, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Former Collingwood footy boss Neil Balme says Nathan Buckley isn’t completely to blame for the controversial Chris Mayne deal.

Mayne, 29, signed a four-year, $2 million contract after season 2016 to join the Magpies from Fremantle, but only managed three senior games in 2017, and didn’t feature for the Pies after round three.

The lucrative deal has come under intense media scrutiny all year due to Mayne’s inability to contribute to the senior side, or even excel in the VFL, where he spent majority of the season.

Balme, who now works at Richmond, shed some light on the topic.

“I think I know a lot more about that than I’m prepared to talk about, but I wouldn’t blame Bucks for him totally,” Balme told SEN on Friday.

“It looks like his deal was a very, very good deal to his (Mayne’s) advantage. I’m not quite sure how that happened, I think that’s probably the error in it all.”

Nathan Buckley recently told SEN in relation the the Mayne deal that “there were a few things mixed up with that. Our director of football was flipping around and there were a few things that happened there that weren’t ideal”, however Balme suggested coaches at all clubs play a major part in the acquisition of players.

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“Certainly, he wouldn’t be there if the coach said, ‘Absolutely, categorically I don’t want him’, but there are a lot of players on your list who aren’t necessarily your first-picked player, but they’re going to be important players around the place,” Balme said on SEN.

“In Chris’s case I think it seems as though it’s a deal that doesn’t really suit any more, but I’m not quite sure how that happened because I was just leaving at the time.”

Balme expressed sympathy for Mayne’s situation, describing it as “very harsh and unfair”.

“All he’s done is put his hand up and say, ‘I’d love to come and play for your club, I want to come and experience footy in Melbourne’…he’d done some really good work with Fremantle, probably run his race there…not quite sure what happened there, and he finished up at Collingwood, which is all fine,” Balme said.

“Did he play well enough? No, he didn’t. Did they give him enough opportunities? Who knows.”

Mayne played 172 games and kicked 196 goals for Fremantle before moving to Collingwood.