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Portland Thorns introduce Rhian Wilkinson as new head coach

Wilkinson was joined by new general manager Karina LeBlanc at Tuesday's introductory press conference.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Timbers have hired Rhian Wilkinson as the new head coach of the Portland Thorns, the team announced Monday in a news release. Wilkinson replaces Mark Parson, who is leaving the Thorns to take a job as the head coach of the Netherlands women's national team.

The Athletic first reported the hiring of Wilkinson on Nov. 9. The Thorns waited until the National Women's Soccer league (NWSL) postseason had concluded before formally announcing the hire. New Thorns general manager Karina LeBlanc joined Wilkinson during an introductory press conference Tuesday morning.

Wilkinson, who played one match with the Thorns in 2015, won Olympic bronze medals with the Canadian women's national team in 2012 and 2016. After retiring from the Canadian team in 2017, she entered the coaching ranks, working as an assistant with the women's national teams for Canada and England.

"I know that I am inheriting a successful, winning culture on and off the field, and I have immense respect for what everybody at the club has built," Wilkinson said in Monday's news release. "This team has a strong foundation with not only top players but great people. For me, it is a privilege to have the opportunity to join this club and organization, and I am looking forward to getting to know Portland again."

WATCH: Thorns introduce new head coach Rhian Wilkinson

The Athletic's Nov. 9 report about the hiring of Wilkinson came about one week after LeBlanc was hired to replace Gavin Wilkinson, who was removed as general manager in the wake of an investigation into the Thorns' handling of former players' sexual harassment allegations against former coach Paul Riley. Wilkinson remains the general manager of the Portland Timbers.

RELATED: Thorns appoint former goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc as general manager

The head coach hiring process for the Thorns was in the final stages when LeBlanc was hired, according to The Athletic, but she was able to take part in the last round of interviews. LeBlanc and Wilkinson know each other, having played together on the Canadian national team. The Athletic said Thorns players were also involved in the hiring process.

"The hiring of Rhian is a testament to the work and dedication the players, staff and organization put into this coaching search," LeBlanc said in Monday's news release. "Culture is at the core of this team’s success, and Rhian is a culture-first coach, who I believe can navigate and lead us where we want to go.

"Since leaving the field, Rhian has quickly accrued valuable coaching experience and knowledge at the international level, helping her stand out in a deep and competitive candidate pool. She knows how to challenge players in an inspiring, motivating and honest  way and she will bring integrity to the role, while being a player-first person and coach."

During Tuesday morning's press conference she admitted she never thought herself as a coach, until she got injured with the Thorns and kind of fell into coaching. She eventually started working with Canada's National Team. 

"I realized it was teaching, coaching is teaching, I do love the game it's been a huge part of my life, but wanting to be a coach came later," said Wilkinson.