Injured South African paceman Dale Steyn concedes he returned too quickly from his previous shoulder fracture, but he's given no indication he's ready to retire.

Steyn's career hangs in the balance after he suffered a recurrence of a rare shoulder injury while bowling against Australia at the WACA Ground on Friday.

The 33-year-old fractured the coracoid process in his right shoulder - a trauma injury normally associated with a car crash or falling from a great height.

Last December, he suffered a less serious hairline fracture in the same area.

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On that occasion, Steyn initially played through the injury, before letting it heal with a few months' rest on the sidelines.

This time, he'll almost certainly require surgery to have a plate inserted in the area - ruling him out of action for at least six months.

Steyn says he learnt his lesson from rushing back from the last injury.

"There's a lot of cricket to be played and people want you to play, so I didn't have the full time to recover," Steyn told the Nine Network on Saturday.

"I've been dealing with this for quite some time now. I probably should have taken a bit longer.

"But I was wanting to rush and get to the Twenty20 World Cup, I wanted to go to the IPL. I wanted to play.

"So this time I'll take the time to let it heal properly."

Steyn (417) is just five wickets away from overhauling Shaun Pollock (421) to become South Africa's greatest Test wicket-taker.

But some experts have questioned whether Steyn will be able to return as a force in Test cricket given his injury woes over the past 12 months.

South Africa overcame the loss of Steyn to skittle Australia for 244 after the home side had been cruising at 0-158.

Proteas paceman Vernon Philander, who snared 4-56, said he and the rest of the bowling attack were eager to win the game in order to pay tribute to Steyn.

"It serves as motivation for us to really step up and deliver," Philander said.

"Dale has done it for a very long period of time. It's basically up to us to owe it to him.

"There's a lot of responsibility on myself and Kagiso Rabada now, but we're looking forward to the challenge."

- AAP