The defending champions will face Surrey Storm – the team they edged out by a last-gasp goal in the 2014 grand final in April on January 26. In what promises to be a mouth-watering encounter between netball’s biggest rivals, and the Sky Sports cameras will be there to capture every pass live. It is the first time the live TV fixtures have been confirmed so far in advance.
Thunder will follow up the opening game with two difficult home fixtures against Netball Superleague’s two other top four teams. Team Bath – whose last visit to the Thunderdome ended in a semi final defeat – will travel to Manchester in round two on Saturday, February 5 at 5pm.
It will be interesting to see how Bath line-up, with versatile centre courter Serena Guthrie signing to New Zealand ANZ side Auckland Mystics. And the announcement that influential captain Cookey – who missed skippering her country at the Commonwealth Games through injury – is to move to Surrey, could also unsettle the team.
Next up will be Hertfordshire Mavericks, who ended last season on a high, after beating Bath 42-34 in the third/fourth play-off. Thunder will go into this fixture confident following home and away wins against the Mavericks in the 2014 campaign.
An away match with roses rivals Yorkshire Jets comes in round four before the Sky Sports cameras return to Manchester for round five as Thunder take on Celtic Dragons on Monday, February 23 for an evening match.
The second half of the season offers up some potentially memorable ties, with Thunder’s away clash at Bath once again scheduled to be aired live on Sky Sports.