Murphy, who missed the 2003 World Cup after breaking a leg the day before the squad was announced, impressed when representing Ireland against a Connacht XV at Donnybrook last week but he was expected to be left at home.
However, Felix Jones’ ankle ligament injury sustained in the 26-22 defeat to France at the Aviva Stadium has opened the door for the Leicester Tigers captain to be drafted into the squad.
Declan Kidney has sprung another surprise with his decision to leave O’Leary at home in favour of handing Conor Murray his chance to shine on the world stage.
The scrum-half position has been hotly contested with five players vying for just three spots and Murray has been rewarded for his impressive season with Munster.
While O’Leary’s omission is somewhat of a surprise, Peter Stringer’s absence from the squad was expected after he was left out of the Ireland teams to face France and Connacht last week.
It means Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss will join Murray on the plane to New Zealand.
There was also competition in the outside-back slots with Tommy Bowe, Rob Kearney and Andrew Trimble all but certain to be included. That left Fitzgerald, Keith Earls and Fergus McFadden fighting for the two remaining spots.
Despite given Ireland an extra spark following his introduction against the French, Fitzgerald misses out with the management team plumping for Earls and McFadden.
Ireland squad in full:
Forwards: Rory Best, Jerry Flannery, Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Mike Ross, Tom Court, Tony Buckley, Paul O’Connell, Donncha O’Callaghan, Leo Cullen, Donncha Ryan, Seán O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, David Wallace, Denis Leamy, Stephen Ferris.
Backs: Eoin Reddan, Isaac Boss, Conor Murray, Jonathan Sexton, Ronan O’Gara, Gordon D’Arcy, Brian O’Driscoll, Paddy Wallace, Fergus McFadden, Keith Earls, Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Rob Kearney, Geordan Murphy.